Pacific Notes: Ayton, Curry, Paul, Kobe, Clippers

Suns center Deandre Ayton was the subject of trade rumors earlier this offseason and has faced criticism for his inconsistent play. He spoke last month about wanting to “change the narrative of what people think about me.”

Helping the Bahamas win a pre-qualifying tournament for the 2024 Olympics was a good start, and the former No. 1 overall pick seems to have rediscovered his joy for basketball while representing his home country, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link).

The best teammates I’ve ever been around on and off the court,” Ayton said last weekend after defeating Argentina in the final. “Just understanding how it feels to fight for your country and everybody on the same mission. It was a phenomenal feeling.”

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Mark Medina of Sportskeeda recently spoke to Stephen Curry‘s trainer, Brandon Payne, about a number of topics, including Curry’s offseason work with new Warriors addition Chris Paul. “It was great,” Payne said. “They are two guys that have the same mindset: ‘We’re here to win, so let’s do it.’ I was very impressed with the instant chemistry those guys had. It was fun to watch. There was so much ball movement. For a pick-up basketball game, that was some of the most impressive ball movement I’ve ever seen.”
  • The Lakers will unveil a statue of the late Kobe Bryant outside Arena on February 8, 2024, tweets Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group. “Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time, and one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles,” said Lakers governor Jeanie Buss. “There is no better place for Kobe to honored with a statue than here, at the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.” The Hall-of-Fame shooting guard spent all 20 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers, making 15 All-NBA appearances and winning five championships.
  • With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George possibly entering the final year of their respective contracts (both have player options for 2024/25), Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports wonders if the Clippers‘ title window has already closed. As Goodwill writes, Leonard and George have dealt with numerous injuries during their four years in L.A., so it’s hard to envision the Clippers being open to lucrative long-term extensions with the star wings.
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