According to Grantland's Bill Simmons, who finishes off his three-part trade value column, there's "increasing buzz" that the Lakers would amnesty Kobe Bryant if they were guaranteed to sign both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. That appears a longshot on multiple counts, since the Clippers seem all but assured of re-signing Paul, while the Lakers have insisted they're not considering the amnesty move on Kobe. Even if the Lakers take Kobe's $30MM+ salary for next season off their books, it would still be difficult for the team to fit a max contract for Paul under the cap. Regardless, the offseason figures to be full of intrigue in L.A., as always. Here's the latest from the City of Angels and other Western Conference locales:
Not only were they swept by the Spurs, but the Lakers lost all four games to San Antonio by double digits, culminating in Sunday's game four defeat at the Staples Center. Today was exit interview day for the Lakers in Los Angeles. Let's round up all the news coming out of those meetings here as it is reported throughout the night:
With three NBA games scheduled, the Clippers are the only Pacific division team in action tonight. Let's round up links from the division here:
The NBA has its first official playoff matchup cemented in the postseason schedule, as the Bucks' loss to the Bobcats tonight guaranteed them a first round dance with the Heat. Now that Boston is a lock for seventh place, five of the remaining playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference are still yet to be determined. We've got plenty of miscellaneous links to share tonight, and you can find them below:
Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post.
Shortly before the announcement that Lakers guard Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery (according to NBA.com) and faces a six-to-nine month road to recovery, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke to reporters and fielded questions about his thoughts on Kobe, Mike D'Antoni's decision to give him heavy minutes, and what's next for the Lakers heading into the playoffs. Kupchak also mentioned that Kobe was in good spirits before the operation and has his sights set on returning in time for training camp in November. Here are some more of the highlights from the transcript (via NBA.com):
On the idea of possibly amnestying Kobe:
"That’s not even something we’ve discussed. From my understanding without going into great detail, that’s not something that gets to the fall. I think that's something that happens in July, so that’s not something that takes place next year. That’s the furthest thing from my mind right now."
On Mike D'Antoni's decision to give Kobe extended minutes as of late:
"...I don’t think Mike is at blame here one bit. Certainly everybody can second guess looking back on it now and say maybe you should have done something different. But even if you take Kobe out of the game, there are a lot of times where he’ll just get up and put himself back into the game. Just because you say you’re out of the game doesn’t mean he’s going to come out of the game or going to stay out of the game."
On whether or not Kobe could have been convinced to sit:
"At a certain level, when you’re talking to players, these guys are different and Kobe is at the top of the list when it comes to being different. They’re wound up differently and they’re cut differently. When you’re at the top of your profession, you just look at things differently. His message to me was: ‘Mitch, I hear what you’re saying, but we have to get in the playoffs. I’m playing and there’s nothing you can do about it."
Asked if Phil Jackson could have said no to playing Kobe heavy minutes:
"Kobe is no different under Phil (Jackson) than he was under Rudy (Tomjanovich) than he was under Mike (Brown) or under Mike D’Antoni."
On Dwight Howard's importance moving forward:
"It’s not just Dwight. Everybody’s going to have to raise their level of play. He’s the main guy. Certainly a lot will fall on his shoulders. When we get Steve Nash back, a lot will fall on his shoulders. Last night, Pau was one of our best players, too. I’m not going to say that it’s all on one person’s shoulders, but everybody has to carry a little bit more right now and Dwight is one of them."
Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti told reporters, including Arash Markazi of ESPN.com, that Kobe Bryant has suffered a torn left Achilles tendon and will be out for six to nine months (Twitter link). Bryant suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter of last night's win over the Warriors. He stayed in the game to take a pair of free throws, making them both, before limping off. It's a third-degree rupture, meaning the tendon is completely torn, Vitti said, as Eric Pincus and Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times note (Twitter links). Bryant's surgery is set for later today, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Vitti told McMenamin and others that the plan is for Bryant to be ready for the 2013/14 season opener, though that would represent the early side of the timetable (Twitter link). A doctor who's unaffiliated with the team told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that Kobe Bryant could be back in time for the start of next season, but it's more likely recovery will take nine to 12 months. Another doctor tells Deveney that Bryant will never regain 100% of his athletic ability.
Vitti vehemently dismissed the notion that Bryant's heavy minutes of late contributed to the injury, according to Pincus (Twitter link). Tim Grover, Bryant's personal trainer, agrees, telling Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he'd be "shocked" if the increased playing time led to the tear (Twitter link). Coach Mike D'Antoni nonetheless absorbed blame in response to a question last night from Brian Kamenetzky of SheridanHoops.com.
"Yeah, definitely. It's my call at the very end, so if he gets hurt, then (I feel responsible)," D'Antoni said. "But I'm not going to sit here and go, 'Maybe he wouldn't have gotten hurt if (he played less).' You don't know. You've got to go forward, and we made decisions collectively and tried to make the best ones we can. Right now, that's not turning out to be great. But it might not have been good, anyway. If you're a couple games out and not making the playoffs, then he can rest all summer. We'll go back and forth, but I don't know, hypotheticals -- we can talk about it, but it's not going to help any."
There's been speculation, from Grantland's Bill Simmons and others, that the Lakers could waive Bryant via the amnesty clause this summer, as he's set to make $30.454MM next season, the highest salary in the league. That's not likely, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who points out that the Lakers would lose Bryant's Bird rights if they did so (Twitter link). Thus, the move would only come in handy if the Lakers are certain they'd have enough cap space in 2014 to re-sign him, as Stein argues via Twitter. However, Steve Nash is currently the only commitment the Lakers have beyond next season, so the team probably wouldn't have trouble fitting Bryant back under the cap if need be.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said amnestying Bryant is "the furthest thing from our minds," Shelburne tweets.
Last night, the Lakers received devastating news when they learned that Kobe Bryant has torn his Achilles tendon. The Lakers already had their work cut out for them in a potential first-round matchup with the Thunder, but they'll really be at a disadvantage without their star guard in action. The injury could also have long-term ramifications for the Lakers and speculation is already ramping up about the club possibly amnestying the future Hall of Famer this summer. Here's more on Kobe and the Lakers..
The Lakers survived tonight's game against the Warriors when Stephen Curry's would-be game-winning heave from 70 feet away just barely rimmed out, but they may have suffered an even bigger blow than if that shot had gone in. The Lakers believe Kobe Bryant has torn his Achilles tendon, the team told reporters, including Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). Bryant will undergo an MRI tomorrow morning to confirm the initial diagnosis.
Bryant appeared to suffer three different leg injuries during the game, though the major blow seemed to occur with 3:08 to go, when he crumpled to the ground following a foul by Harrison Barnes. Bryant remained in the game to shoot his two free throws, making both, and exited after Steve Blake committed a foul to stop the clock with 3:06 left.
If Bryant indeed suffered the Achilles tear, he'd no doubt be done for this season and probably most of next year, as well. His contract runs through next season, and he's frequently hinted that he'll retire when the deal is up. He said two weeks ago that he'd decide this summer whether next season will be his last.
In the short term, such a major injury would damage L.A.'s chances of beating the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers have a one-game lead with two games left for each team, but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker. The Cavs and Suns also have stakes in the outcome, since Cleveland gets the Lakers' first-round pick if L.A. makes the playoffs, while the selection goes to Phoenix if the Jazz nab the postseason berth.
Bryant seemed resigned to the worst of news as he spoke to the media following the game. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com tweets one of his comments:
"I made a move I've made a million times and it just popped. ... (It felt) like I had no Achilles. That was the sensation," Bryant said.
Kobe Bryant has frequently suggested that he will retire following the 2013/14 season, and after passing Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA's No. 4 all-time leading scorer last night, Bryant told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he'll formally announce his intentions soon. The Black Mamba will decide this summer whether next season will be his last, but said his sense at the moment is that he'll walk away in the summer of 2014.
"I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now," Bryant said. "I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment."
Bryant, who's eligible for an extension in the offseason, insists that if he chooses retirement, he won't listen to any entreaties from the Lakers to play longer. Still, he said one reason he wants to decide this summer is so the team can make plans based on whether he'll be around. Steve Nash is the only Laker signed beyond next season, and LeBron James could opt out of his deal and highlight the free agent class in 2014, so the purple and gold could be in for some major retooling.
If Bryant sticks around, he might have a shot at passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time points lead, which would happen in 2016/17 if he keeps up his current pace. Bryant believes that record is safe, as he told reporters, including Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
"I don’t see it happening," Bryant said. "But if I change my mind and decide to play a little bit longer and be a (point guard), that’s what I’ll do."
J.J. Redick spent nearly six and a half seasons with the Magic before being dealt to the Bucks right before the trade deadline. According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Redick says that he never felt any ill-will toward the Magic organization during the process and completely understands why they traded him: "Based on Arron (Afflalo) being there and who’s in the draft this year and where the Magic are likely to pick, there’s no way they would commit anything to me long-term — not just me, but just anybody in my situation. From a business standpoint, from a cap-building and rebuilding standpoint, it wouldn’t make sense. I get that. That’s fine."
You can find more of what we've gathered up from the Association tonight below: