Kobe Bryant claims that former Hornets coach Dave Cowens told him that Charlotte wasn’t interested in him during the 1996 draft, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com reports. Bryant was shipped to the Lakers for Vlade Divac soon after the draft. “Cowens told me he didn’t want me,” Bryant told reporters in Charlotte. “It wasn’t a question of me even playing here. They had a couple of guards already, a couple small forwards already.” Cowens refuted Bryant’s account of his draft-night odyssey to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. Cowens told Himmelsbach that the Hornets were more concerned at the time that Bryant would play professionally in Italy, as his camp threatened if he didn’t wind up with the Lakers or Knicks. Cowens also denied telling Bryant the Hornets didn’t have a spot for him. “I’d never say anything like that to a player,” Cowens told Himmelsbach. “I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. It wasn’t about him not being able to play for us. It was just [the trade] was already worked out.”
In other news around the league:
- Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy expects a lot of volatility in the Eastern Conference standings this season. Detroit is among 10 conference teams above the .500 mark. “Cleveland hasn’t created a lot of space but they’ve sort of separated themselves as the team at the top of the East. But then everybody else, it’s sort of gone up and down,” he told the assembled media, including Hoops Rumors, last week. “The standings change every single day. We’ve played enough now to say there’s a good chance it stays like that throughout most of the rest of the year. There’s a lot of parity.”
- The D-League’s experiment with coaches challenging an official’s call is still a work in progress, as Adam Johnson of the D-League Digest examines. In its current structure, a coach can only challenge fourth-quarter calls. They lose a timeout if the challenge fails. Limiting challenges to the final quarter is just one of the complaints about the system, Johnson adds.
- The Nets are expected to play more than a dozen doubleheaders next season with their new D-League affiliate’s games preceding the NBA game at Barclays Center, team officials told NetsDaily. The Long Island Nets will begin their inaugural season next November. Barclays will curtain off parts of the arena during D-League games, the report adds.