Sunday, October 22, 2017
Around the NBA: Lakers more interesting off the court; Clippers guards return; Harden still with no contract; Garnett still upset with Allen
By Jason Lewis (Sentinel Sports Editor,
Published October 20, 2012

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is just letting former Lakers point guard Smush Parker that he cost him a MVP award.  Photo by Jeff Lewis


Lakers more interesting off the court than on it


Forget about what the Los Angeles Lakers have been doing on the court, because they are 0-5 in the preseason so far.  As usual, this team is making just as many, if not more headlines off the court as they do on it. 


As the Lakers have been taking it easy during the preseason, Kobe Bryant’s attention has been elsewhere when talking to the media, as he has been talking about potential retirement, former Lakers point guard Smush Parker and New York Yankees star, or former star, Alex Rodriguez.  


But all that talk has taken a back seat to speculation about the summer of 2014.  Bryant has alluded to retiring after his contract with the Lakers runs out after the 2014 season.  It just so happens that Miami Heat star LeBron James can opt out of his contract that summer.  It also so happens to be that the Lakers could be about $30 million under the salary cap at that time.  Resigning Dwight Howard more than likely will affect that number, but the Lakers look like they will be able to sign at least one big time free agent that summer. 


It appears that the stars are aligning, so it did not take long for people to start connecting the dots and come up with the idea of the Lakers rolling out a lineup that includes James and Howard.  With those two guys on board, Bryant would probably take less money to stick around for more titles.  


It is two years out, a lot can happen between now and then, but the pieces are falling perfectly in place for that to happen.  Dwyane Wade will most likely be on his last leg by then, Chris Bosh is not a superstar to begin with, and what superstar player does not want to play for the Lakers?  They might as well go ahead and make that deal now.  It is almost too good to be true, but it all works and it almost does not make sense for it not to happen.  


This speculation is much better than watching the Lakers at this point of the season.  The Lakers have been so much of a non-story on the court that it is more interesting to hear Bryant tee off on Smush Parker.  Laker fans have all but forgotten about Parker, but Bryant is not letting go of it.  Probably because Parker and a few other bad players cost Bryant a MVP award or two. 


Bryant is really pointing out his own greatness, and talking about Rodriguez is another example of that.  He said that Rodriguez is struggling because he has forgotten that he is one of the greatest ever, and that he, Bryant, does not forget that.  That was really a “check out my greatness” moment, and not so much of a pep talk to Rodriguez.  


Laker fans should not be alarmed with the Lakers lack of preseason wins, because they have looked good in the first half of their preseason games, when their starters have been playing.  Fans should not be alarmed when the Lakers are getting blown out in the second halves of games, when the bench is playing for the most part.  It is not an indication that the Lakers will have bench problems, because a good amount of the players on the court in the second halves of these games will not get significant minutes or even make the team.  


Howard looks like he will take the court for the final few preseason games, and Jordan Hill will be returning to the line up soon.  He has been out with a herniated disk in his back.  


Chauncey Billups practices, but still out


The Los Angeles Clippers have been without their two top backcourt players for the bulk of the preseason.  


Point guard Chris Paul had been out while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.  He saw his first game action this past Wednesday.  


Shooting guard Chauncey Billups, who torn his Achilles tendon in February, has been cleared to practice and he went through full-contact scrimmages, but he will not see game action until at least next month, and possibly December.  


The Clippers were able to get to the playoffs and win a series without Billups, but without his leadership, it will be tough for them to advance any further than that.  They should be fine without him for the next couple of months, but come playoff time, they are going to need his clutch play and leadership. 


James Harden’s contract still up in the air


The clock is ticking, and if the Oklahoma City Thunder do not come to terms on a new contract with guard James Harden (Artesia High School), the reigning Sixth Man Award winner, by October 31, then Harden will become a restricted free agent on July 1.  


The Thunder recently took care of big man Serge Ibaka with a four-year, $50 million contract.  Harden is still waiting for his deal, but he is looking for a max deal, which the Thunder have not offered him. 


Harden has made every indication that he wants to stay with the Thunder, who are one of the top contenders for the NBA championship.  It is a perfect situation for him where he can shine without having to be the go-to guy.  Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook fill those roles. 


But max money goes to superstar players.  As valuable as Harden is, it is tough to pay a bench player that type of money.  If Harden goes elsewhere for more money, a lot more will be expected of him.  So he has a big decision to make.  Take less money and continue to be a role player on a team that is on the verge of winning a title, or take more money and have to step up his game and be a superstar player.  


Garnett at odds with Allen


Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has become a bit chappy as he has gotten older.  Maybe playing in Boston has toughened him up. 


Garnett is still upset that guard Ray Allen left the Celtics to sign with the Heat.  He deleted Allen’s number from his phone, and he wants no communication with the teammate that he went to battle with and won an NBA title with.  


The Celtics nearly traded Allen at the trade deadline last season, and there were rumors that he did not get along with point guard Rajon Rondo.  It appears that a lot of people inside the Celtics organization, on the court and in the front office, had issues with Rondo. 


If Allen had gone to any team outside of the Heat or Lakers, Garnett probably would not of had an issue.  But that had to be a tough pill to swallow for him.  


Allen should come out on top on this one, because the Celtics are going to struggle to make it deep in the playoffs, while the Heat should make it back to the NBA Finals.   



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