Kobe Bryant has embraced his role as a mentor for a young Lakers team that is counting on D’Angelo Russell (who is 19), Julius Randle (20) and Jordan Clarkson (23) to step up, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com writes. After practices, Holmes adds, several players have been gathering, whether back at the team hotel or elsewhere, just to talk with Bryant.
“The other day, we sat around and talked for about 2 1/2 hours,” Bryant said. “They just wanted to know some of the things that I’ve been through, some of the things that I’ve learned, some of the things that I can help them with. The game really connects us.”
Here’s more on the Western Conference:
- Kevin Eastman is now an assistant coach for the Clippers after previously serving as assistant vice president of the franchise, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register tweets.
- Nuggets coach Michael Malone has prioritized getting to know his players, learning about their lives, their likes and dislikes, their families and what in general makes them tick, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays in an entertaining read.
- Eric Bledsoe, who is set to make $13.5MM next season in the second year of a five-year, $70MM deal, showed a commitment to the Suns this summer when he stayed in Phoenix and there are indications that his game could take another step forward this season, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes.
- The Kings have multiple options at the starting power forward position as complements to All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. The team has looked for a power forward with shooting range, or one who can contribute defensively, Jones adds. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Quincy Acy, and small forward Rudy Gay are all in the mix, according to Jones.