Bryant’s lockout plans

Kobe Bryant hasn’t said boo since his exit interview with reporters after the Lakers’ second-round playoff flameout in May. He hasn’t expressed an opinion on the hiring of Mike Brown to replace the retired Phil Jackson. He hasn’t said anything about anything, skipping the chance to talk last week during his annual youth basketball camp at UC Santa Barbara. So, it’s anyone’s guess what he might do during the work stoppage.

Deron Williams, in an interview with ESPN.com, offered an opinion. Williams, a New Jersey Nets guard, plans to play in Turkey next season but he doesn’t expect Bryant to follow.

“I see him going to China or somewhere,” said Williams, who joined with Bryant to help the so-called Redeem Team win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “He’s big in China. I was over there with him in Beijing. He’s ‘The Man’ over there.”

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Artest, er, World Peace Q&A

From The New York Times:

Did you hear the one about the basketball player who wanted to try stand-up comedy? It’s not a joke, at least not to the Lakers’ Ron Artest, who will deal with another kind of rim shot when he hosts a comedy show called “Ron Artest: The Ultimate Comedy Tour” at Carolines on Broadway in New York on Friday. Artest, who has filed court papers to change his name to Metta World Peace, will headline a lineup that includes the comedians Brooklyn Mike Troy, Smokey, Cipha Sounds and Mark Viera.

Question: Why did you decide to become involved with comedy?
Answer: “I’m just hosting the show and having fun. Being a comic is very hard. But we do have great talent in the show.”

Q: Who is your favorite comedian?
A: “My favorite comedian of all time is Martin Lawrence.”

Q: Who is the funniest N.B.A. player you know?
A: “The funniest guy in the league is Lamar Odom. He can be an actor, but some people will never know that.”

Q: What other names did you consider before you decided on Metta World Peace?
A: “I considered One Love among some others.”

Q: Will you and the Lakers miss Phil Jackson?
A: “I only played for Coach Jackson for two years. Kobe [Bryant], Lamar, Luke [Walton] and the others had more of a connection with Phil. They had a 10-year run. But I wish I had a 10-year-run with Coach Jackson, too.”

Q: What do you think of your new coach, Mike Brown?
A: “He has a great defensive mind.”

Q: Did the Mavericks surprise you when they defeated Miami for the title?
A: “No. They were a real team. The best team always wins.”

Q: When their careers are over, who will be the better player, Kobe or LeBron James?
A: “It’s hard to say. LeBron has another eight years or so, so we’ll see.”

Q: You’re considered one of the best defensive players in the league. Who is the toughest player for you to guard?
A: “Richard Hamilton, because he’s always running around.”

Q: You’re from New York and starred at St. John’s. Do you hope to play for the Knicks someday?
A: “Maybe one day at the end of my career. But the dream is long gone, I think.”

Q: What do you think the Knicks need to do to win a title?
A: “They need more players.”

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Lakers hire Messina as coaching consultant

Mike Brown took another step toward completing his staff when he hired former Italian national team coach Ettore Messina today. Messina spent the last two seasons coaching the Spanish club team Real Madrid.

“I am honored to have received this opportunity from one of the great basketball organizations in the world,” Messina said in a statement. “I have great respect for coach Mike Brown and I’m excited to work with him and his staff.”

Messina, whose title will be “coaching consultant,” joins assistants John Kuester, Chuck Person and Quin Snyder on Brown’s staff. It’s been reported the Lakers also will hire ex-University of Utah coach Jim Boylen. Messina

Messina also coached CSKA Moscow for four seasons, winning two Euroleague Championships and four Russian leaguee titles. He coached in the Italian League for 15 seasons. He served as the Italian national team coach from 1993-97, guiding the team to the European Championship in 1997.

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Person, Snyder hired as assistant coaches

Lakers coach Mike Brown hired Chuck Person and Quin Snyder as assistant coaches. Person was an assistant on Phil Jackson’s staff the last two seasons. Snyder was an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. They join John Kuester, who was hired Wednesday. Brown is likely two hire two more assistants to complete his staff.

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Gasol to play in Spain or China

With the lockout in full effect, many players are looking for places to play next season. Here’s a story from The Associated Press on Pau Gasol’s plans if the lockout is protracted and games or even the entire season is lost:

MADRID — Pau Gasol says his preference is to play in Spain if the NBA season is canceled, although the Lakers center isn’t ruling out China either.

Gasol said today, “If there is a lockout, Spain would be the first choice — I wouldn’t say only one, but the first.”

China, he added, has “great potential” as an alternative to Spain.

Gasol said sitting out a season would be too “weird” especially as the NBA is coming off a “great year” with the Dallas Mavericks beating the favored Miami Heat in the finals.

Gasol is playing in the European Championship in September, when Spain can clinch its place for the 2012 Olympics.

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