HoopsHype Kobe Bryant rumors

October 22, 2014 Updates

The ESPN article, quoting anonymous sources, framed Bryant as someone who alienated potential free agents and teammates. After scoring 27 points during the Lakers’ 114-108 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns at Honda Center in Anaheim, Bryant addressed the story that ran on Monday. “It’s not the first one, it’s not going to be the last one,” Bryant said. “The one thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world. It seems like everybody is taking shots at you. Los Angeles Times

“But time goes by, and then you look back and it’s just a Monday. Right? Then have another great story that comes out maybe a month later or something like that and it’s a fantastic story. And then there’s a bad story that comes out a month after that. “It’s a cycle. And things are never as good or as bad as they seem at the moment in time. So you stay focused on the big picture. Things are never really as bleak as they seem at the time. I just kind of roll with it.” Los Angeles Times

Oscar Schmidt was the band you loved fiercely and could never convince anyone else was the greatest thing on earth. Oscar Schmidt was indie rock. Kobe’s call? “No question,” he says, “he would have been one of the greatest.” In ’95, after a short, unsatisfying stint in Spain, Schmidt finally came home. He spent his last few years at Flamengo, an all-sports club and a dynasty — the Yankees of Brazil. There, in his forties, he made the best money of his career. How did he manage at such an advanced age? “I don’t waste my energy,” he says. “I start to have more precision.” He smiles. “And I start to defend only in the second half.” Grantland

In his first time speaking to media after an ESPN The Magazine article suggested that he played a significant role in the Lakers' recent slide over the last few years, Bryant, known for speaking candidly, responded with a seemingly diplomatic answer. "It's not the first one and it won't be the last one," Bryant said following the Lakers' 114-108 preseason overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. "One thing I've come to understand over the years is that you'll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it's the end of the world and it seems like everybody's taking shots at you. But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday. ESPN.com

Bryant continued, explaining his rationale behind remaining upbeat despite the current state of the Lakers franchise. "Stay focused on the bigger picture and things are never as bleak as they seem at the time," Bryant said. "I just kind of roll with it." ESPN.com

October 21, 2014 Updates

But in the land of Hollywood, the Lakers’ quest toward bouncing back from their worst season in L.A. franchise history will not involve special effects or star power. “We’re going to be smashmouth basketball,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “That’s how we’re going to play. We’re going to be nasty. We’re going to be physical.” Los Angeles Daily News

October 20, 2014 Updates

"I've had a lot of clients in the last five years, good players, who didn't want to play with Kobe," says an agent who has had numerous NBA stars. "They see that his teammates become the chronic public whipping boys. Anyone who could possibly challenge Kobe for the spotlight ends up becoming a pincushion for the media. Even Shaq." ESPN.com

"Mitch did his homework," says another NBA exec. "He can't get a marquee player to play alongside Kobe, cap space be damned." As several agents around the league said, it's tough, after so many failed attempts, to convince any player that they'll love playing with Bryant. "He wants to win," says a source close to Lakers decision makers. "But only as long as he's the reason we're winning, as long as the performance is not affecting his numbers. No one works harder than Kobe. And no one sabotages his own efforts more. He's scaring off the free agents we're trying to get. We're trying to surround you with talent and your ego is getting in the way." ESPN.com

The story of the Lakers' losing Howard has been told as one of the big man chafing under Mike D'Antoni's offense. One Lakers source, though, says Howard's issue wasn't really with the offensive scheme but that "he saw one particular player play outside that scheme with carte blanche, with no accountability. These people who say Dwight couldn't handle the pressure of Los Angeles ... that's nonsense. LA was everything Dwight wanted. To be celebrated. To be among stars. To be among women of this caliber. To live, basically, in one big reality TV show. This was a perfect setting for him." Bryant, who declined through a Lakers spokesman to comment for this story, playfully grumbles about today's youth and their newfangled ways, but there really is an element to his play that is from the past. ESPN.com

In the days before LA acquired Nash, sources say, the point guard wanted to hear from Bryant that the Lakers' star was amenable to having Nash control the ball much of the time -- a key tenet of the D'Antoni offense from the Suns days. When Lakers brass asked Bryant to call Nash, Bryant failed to do so, saying he preferred that Nash call him. The pettiness took days to resolve and nearly scuttled the deal. ESPN.com

While the Lakers were going after Anthony in vain, they quietly pursued Chris Bosh as well, but he preferred the carcass of the Heat. Paul George, Angelino through and through, had once been the team's safest choice. But sources say one reason the two-way star had re-signed with the Pacers in the fall of 2013 instead was that he was turned off by the thought that Bryant would police his efforts. ESPN.com

Sessions has been somewhat evasive as to why, but he has been quoted as saying it was "definitely different" playing with Bryant. Internally, the Lakers were rattled by his departure and came to believe that Kobe was the key. It meant little as a transaction but everything as a sign of how players with options view this team. "Peek behind the banners," says one longtime NBA agent, "and it's rotten." "Kobe is like the big rock in their front yard," says an agent who has had a Lakers client in recent years. "You can't mow over it, so you just have to mow around it." ESPN.com

"I just never felt like the Lakers put as much effort into the building-the-team part of it," says an agent who once had a free agent decline a Lakers offer. "I saw some things in the players' parking lot. Conversations between Bynum and his people and some people with the Lakers. It got pretty rough and heated." "It's horrendous. It's evil. It's a hard drug to quit when you're winning," says a front office executive from a rival team who knows everyone involved well. "Kobe has cost the Lakers dearly in human capital. Kobe has hurt a lot of people. In some cases jeopardized careers." ESPN.com

The view in the Lakers' front office is that any real rebuild will have to wait until after Bryant's retirement. "This has finally come home," says a Lakers insider. "Major players don't want to play with Kobe, and Jimmy is waiting for him to leave. ESPN.com

In most ownership groups, nobody is relying on the team as the prime revenue stream; the team is the high-risk end of a much bigger portfolio. In LA, the team is the linchpin supporting six heirs. And there is no more important income than the 20-year, $3 billion Time Warner deal to broadcast Lakers games locally. One well-placed source who has reviewed Lakers team finances says the Lakers' annual income from that deal hinges on ratings, which tend to go up when Bryant is on the court. If the team had jettisoned Bryant and tanked the past season in the name of a high 2014 draft pick, the resulting low ratings would have smacked the business of the Lakers hard. ESPN.com

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