Nate Wolters done in New Orleans

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October 9, 2015 | 6:21 am EDT Update
Such a turn of events would be a godsend for some Lakers fans, many of whom worship at the altar of Bryant. Numerous people around the NBA, however, say Bryant deciding to play beyond this upcoming season would be the Lakers’ worst nightmare. “They’ve got to get rid of Kobe,” a scout said. “You let him walk,” an agent said. “Get rid of Kobe by whatever means necessary,” an executive said.
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Many insiders doubt Bryant will take a backseat to anyone, let alone young players. “That’s why I wouldn’t want him on the team,” one executive said, “because I don’t think he’d accept that role.” “When has he ever embraced anything even close to that over the last two-to-three years?” one scout asked. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to change him to be in a role that he’s never been in.”
“They’ve been trying to get me to (be aggressive), and now I’m just getting back to it because I didn’t want to come in being aggressive and then be too aggressive,” Aldridge told USA TODAY. “I think it’s better to be passive (at the beginning), and then kind of get into it more, so they’ve got me back to (thinking), ‘You’ve got to still be yourself, but take the good pass and make the great pass,’ and that’s what I’ve been doing.
The fan was referencing Bryant’s No. 93 ranking in ESPN’s #NBArank project, which counts down the NBA’s top players for this upcoming season. Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and the third all-time leading scorer in NBA history, laughed when asked whether he’d heard such comments from fans defending him. “Yeah, I heard a couple of them,” he said with a smile after scoring 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting in nearly 22 minutes. “I don’t need to defend that [ranking]. Nobody does, really.”
Gülen and Erdoğan were once political allies. But after nationwide protests of Erdogan’s government in 2013 led to a highly criticized crackdown and 22 deaths, Gülen withdrew his support. A corruption scandal followed, which Erdoğan blamed on a political group formed of Gülen’s followers. Kanter is one of those followers. He’s a vocal supporter of the movement and highly critical of Erdoğan. “If you don’t think the same way the president, he tries to stop you on everything,” Kanter said.
But there is a bigger picture, even if it is one of perception. The head coach of an N.B.A. team is largely responsible for establishing and enforcing standards for player accountability, and now there are questions about what Fisher may have been up to when he left the team over the weekend to see his children, who live in Los Angeles, only to have the incident with Barnes occur at Govan’s home.
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Fisher is free to date whomever he chooses, but rest assured there was widespread cringing inside N.B.A. headquarters when it was learned that he has been seeing the estranged wife of a current player, a former Los Angeles Lakers teammate. Shifting though it may be, there is a social line that authority figures should think about at least twice before crossing.
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Across town, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts mourned the player she celebrated as a young basketball fan growing up in the Bronx. “When I heard about Darryl, I thought, ‘That’s not supposed to happen,’ Roberts said. “It’s too soon.” Seventeen days later, Moses Malone, who had spent the weekend enjoying the annual Hall of Fame festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, was found dead in a hotel room in Norfolk, Virginia. Those close to Malone say the 60-year-old exercised regularly after his NBA career and eschewed drugs and alcohol. An autopsy concluded the cause of death was coronary artery disease.
A shaken Silver called Roberts the morning after Malone passed away. The players’ association was working on a program that would fund cardiac screening and supplemental health insurance for its retired players. Silver wanted to know how close the union was to rolling out its initiative and how the league could help expedite the process. “We need to get something together quickly,” Roberts said. “You read my mind,” Silver responded.
Silver said the NBA is prepared to kick in both financial support and a vast array of medical resources, including a prodigious network of cardiologists that have been affiliated with the NBA for years. Roberts and her staff presented their vision of comprehensive screening for retirees to current players at their annual Las Vegas meeting in July. While union officers (among them president Chris Paul and vice president LeBron James) were keenly receptive, they pressed for more specifics and wanted assurances the program would be sustainable.
October 8, 2015 | 9:57 pm EDT Update

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