Nets coach Jason Kidd tells Tyshawn Taylor to “Hit Me”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Jason Kidd struggles overseeing a $187 million roster plagued with injuries. As Brooklyn tries to chip away at the Lakers’ 27-point lead, the Nets coach suddenly realizes he doesn’t have any timeouts remaining. So with the Lakers nursing a three-point lead while Jodie Meeks shoots a pair of free throws with 8.3 seconds left, Kidd appears to tell Tyshawn Taylor to hit him.

Taylor obliges by running into Kidd, spilling his cup over the floor and forcing the referee to stop the play.

How do you explain this?

“Cup slipped out of my hand as I was getting Ty out. Sweaty palms, I was never good with the ball,” joked Kidd, who ranks second in the NBA’s all-time assists record. “In the heat of the battle, you’re trying to get guys in and out of the game. The coke fell out of my hand.”

Right.

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Nick Young has sprained ring finger on left hand

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Nick Young (0) shoots over Brooklyn Nets power forward Mirza Teletovic (33) and small forward Paul Pierce (34) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Nick Young (0) shoots over Brooklyn Nets power forward Mirza Teletovic (33) and small forward Paul Pierce (34) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Don’t let the smile fool you.

Nick Young showed elation over the Lakers’ 99-94 victory Wednesday over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Same thing with his 26 point-performance on 8 of 16 shooting. But Young admittedly expressed feeling pain after spraining a joint in his ring finger in his left hand. C-rays turned out negative. Should he play when the Lakers (8-8) play Friday in Detroit (6-9), Young will have to wear a splint on his finger.

“Now I can’t get married!” Young joked as Lakers trainer Gary Vitti applied tape on his finger in the locker room.

It all started when Young drove in for an unsuccessful layup with the game tied 92-92 with 1:42 remaining.

“The last play when I went to the hole, Paul Pierce smacked down my hand kind of hard,” Young said. “It bent some kind of way. I thought it was broken. I thought it was over. I’m going to try my best to play through it. I’ll see how i feel in the morning and go from there.”
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Kobe Bryant defends his contract extension via Twitter

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards

This should’ve marked a time for Kobe Bryant to view his extension with the Lakers as a time to marvel on his longevity and to ensure his Lakers legacy by solely wearing the purple and gold through 20 NBA seasons.

But with the Lakers granting Bryant $48 million through the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, even some of the most ardent supporters have questioned the signing. Though his took a relative paycut from the $30.45 million he is earning this season, Bryant’s extension will only allow the Lakers to pursue two max-caliber free agents instead of one. The Lakers are also boxing themselves into signing one-year players on the minimum. That formula may have resulted in the Lakers fielding a competitive roster without last year’s drama, but the team’s 7-8 record speaks for itself. The Lakers also secured Bryant without seeing him return from an injured left Achilles tendon that has sidelined him for the past seven months.

Bryant sounded largely respectful about the criticism surrounding his deal in a press conference Tuesday before the Lakers lost to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. But it’s clear in his tweets written Wednesday morning that it bothers him.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear that they ensured Bryant remains the highest paid NBA player both for basketball and business reasons. Bryant’s built plenty of equity through 17 NBA seasons, including bringing the Lakers five NBA championships, seven NBA Finals appearances as well as becoming the franchise leading scorer. It’s clear Bryant has proven instrumental in the team’s ticket and jersey sales as well as the Lakers securing a lucrative deal with Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

But the prevailing criticism surrounding Bryant hasn’t involved whether he deserves this kind of money. The main argument has involved questioning to what degree Bryant’s really placing the most value on maximizing his chances at winning an NBA championship. Bryant, obviously sees otherwise, arguing that the Lakers can still build a championship-contending roster around him.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Lakers continue inconsistency with loss to Wizards

Washington Wizards forward Nene (42), from Brazil, shoots between Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5), center Pau Gasol (16), from Spain, and guard Jodie Meeks (20) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Washington. Nene had 30 points and the Wizards won 116-111. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Nene (42), from Brazil, shoots between Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5), center Pau Gasol (16), from Spain, and guard Jodie Meeks (20) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Washington. Nene had 30 points and the Wizards won 116-111. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — The only thing that has remained consistent about the Lakers season involves their inconsistency.

They find a way to overachieve with a handful of castoffs, but lack a pecking order in their offense. The Lakers show effort on defense through teamwork and hustle, and then they don’t. They valiantly fight to the very end, but without the definitive closer in Kobe Bryant to finish the job.

So it should hardly serve as a surprise the Lakers’ 116-111 loss Tuesday to the Washington Wizards Tuesday at Verizon Center, following a three-game game winning steak. The Lakers (6-7) have shown those struggles all season, particularly where on the road where they have gone 1-5. A game tonight against the ailing Brooklyn Nets (4-10) might do the trick, but the Lakers are 0-3 on the second night of back-to-backs.

“You expect that out of a young team and a pretty new team,” said Lakers center Pau Gasol, whose 17 points on 8 of 15 shooting, eight assists and six rebounds were offset with five fouls and four turnovers. “We don’t expect to have a great record on the road at this point.”
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Kobe Bryant dishes on extension, rehab

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant speaks during a media availability before an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Washington. The Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year contract extension Monday, securing the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history into his 20th season with the franchise. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant speaks during a media availability before an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Washington. The Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year contract extension Monday, securing the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history into his 20th season with the franchise. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – Kobe Bryant sat down at a table bearing a bright smile.

The reasons were obvious.

In what he said will “probably” serve as his last contract, Bryant’s two-year extension worth $48 million with the Lakers essentially ensures he finishes a 20-year career with the purple and gold. ‘

“It makes me want to run through a wall for them,” Bryant said in a press conference Tuesday at Verizon Center. “It adds more fuel to the fire to be able to come out and prove to everybody that they’re right and everybody else is wrong.”

Bryant cant’ run through a wall yet, let alone run in an actual NBA game considering he’s rehabbed his left Achilles tendon for the past seven months. He will sit out when the Lakers (7-7) host the Washington Wizards (5-8) tonight at Verizon Center. Bryant penciled himself out of the Lakers’ remaining road games this week against Brooklyn (Wednesday) and Detroit (Friday) as well as home game against Portland (Sunday). Though he said he’s “feeling pretty strong,” Bryant said he remains “weeks away” from returning because he still needs to practice.

Bryant said he will join the Lakers when they resume their practice schedule Dec. 3 leading up to Dec. 6 when the Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings. Could Bryant make his return then?

“We’ll see. You start looking at some of those dates a little bit,” Bryant said. “Those three days when I come back will be huge in seeing what I can or can’t do day after day.”

Bryant said he wants to test what he described as his “explosiveness,” admittedly struggling with beating his teammates off the dribble and using his shoulder to create separation inside.

Those aren’t the only unsettling issues Bryant will have to answer.

Can the Lakers field enough of a roster to ensure Bryant wins his sixth NBA championship and perhaps beyond?

“From what I saw, absolutely,” Bryant said. “I think the fans are god bless them, they’re fans and have good intentions and a good spirit about it. But I don’t think they understand the cap or what strategically the Lakers are trying to do better than the Lakers do. I think we’ll be all right.”

Still, with Bryant remaining the NBA’s highest paid player, the Lakers will only have enough purchasing power to sign one top-level free agent. The 2014 candidates include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Luol Dang. The 2015 candidates include Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. Bryant’s deal will enable the Lakers only to pursue one high profile free agent instead of two.

“We have the opportunity to do that,” Bryant said. “I don’t know legally what I’m allowed to say or not say in terms of impending free agents and things like that. I stay away from that. But we have the ability to do something special. We have to see what happens. The Lakers are a standup organization. They stepped up to the plate and took care of me. Some of it obviously was the work previously done and the value and other things I’ve brought to the organization and some of it is a leap of faith of what they expect of me to do when I return despite my 25th ranking.”

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Mitch Kupchak argues Lakers can still build championship roster around Kobe Bryant

WASHINGTON — The Lakers are a better team with Kobe Bryant, obviously.

But will his two-year, $48.5 million extension ensure the Lakers enough financial flexibility to build a championship roster?

“I think we do,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday in a conference call from Los Angeles. “The challenges are there. The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t make it easier for anybody. It’s restrictive and challenging. But yes, I do believe we can.”

Before Bryant’s signing, the Lakers only had three players under contract next season, including Steve Nash ($9.7 million), Nick Young ($1.2 million) and Robert Sacre ($915,243), leaving them with plenty of purchasing power to pursue some top flight free agents in the next two years. The 2014 candidates include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Luol Dang. The 2015 candidates include Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. Bryant’s deal will enable the Lakers only to pursue one high profile free agent instead of two.

“You have to weigh what’s going to happen this summer, but everybody forgets Kobe will be a free agent this summer too,” Kupchak said. “We got who we feel is one of the top free agents this summer. We still have the ability to pursue other free agents or other opportunities between now and the trade deadline or this summer or the next summer based on our flexibility.”

Kupchak also defended in ensuring Bryant remains the highest paid NBA player.

“Obviously, he took a pay cut,” Kupchak said of Bryant, who will be paid $30.5 million this season and was eligible to be offered up to $32 million next season under the terms of the new CBA. “A substantial pay cut. A lot of people look at it and say, ‘Well, that’s not a huge financial pay cut,’ but it was a negotiation that we felt like was pretty quickly accomplished and fair on both sides. We’re comfortable.”

“We could compensate Kobe in the manner that we felt he deserved and at the same time be able to have that flexibility,” Kupchak said. “Substantial flexibility. We don’t have a minimum amount of flexibility. We have a lot of flexibility. Then you have to weigh it against, ‘OK, what do you think is going to happen this summer?’

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Pau Gasol concedes Lakers haven’t started talks on his extension

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, right, of Spain, puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings guard Greivis Vasquez, of Venezuela, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, right, of Spain, puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings guard Greivis Vasquez, of Venezuela, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

WASHINGTON — Well, the Lakers didn’t wait until this offseason to extend Kobe Bryant to a two-year, $48 million extension.

So how about Pau Gasol?

“I try not to make that assumption,” Gasol said Tuesday. “If I am, I will. If I’m not, I’m just focused on trying to play as well as I can and finish the season as good as I can so I’m in a best a position as possible for next year. That’s just my mindset about it.”

Gasol, who’s in the final year of his contract worth $19 million, has averaged only 14.3 points on 42.1 percent shooting and 10.6 rebounds, while showing inconsistency on defense. Those numbers are only slightly better than last year when Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 points on 46.6 percent shooting because of a reduced role to accommodate Dwight Howard and a variety of ailments that sidelined him for 33 games.

The 33-year-old Gasol sounded very aware on the potential implications of his pending free agency stemmed from the Lakers ensuring Bryant remains the NBA’s highest paid player.

“Generally speaking, at some point we all have to make sacrifices,” Gasol said. “We’ll see. I don’t know what my situation is going to be or what the team’s interest is moving forward. That hasn’t been expressed to me as much as I’m sure it’s been expressed to him and shown to him at this point. I’m just going to focus to continue to play and try to expand my game. That’s what’s going to help me.

Ever since arriving with the Lakers in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies nearly 5 1/2 years ago, Gasol and Bryant maintained a fruitful partnership. The two teamed up for three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Bryant has also remained vocal the past two years in the Lakers keeping Gasol amid never-ending trade rumors. In Gasol’s photography book, Bryant wrote a foreword about Gasol describing him as his “brother.” Gasol also devoted one of his 16 chapters solely on Bryant.

Gasol called Bryant “the face of the Lakers” and said he’s “happy for him.” But Gasol sounded concerned about what Bryant’s re-signing means for the big picture beyond his own future. Though Bryant took a relative paycut from the $30.45 million he’s earning this year, his extension leaves the Lakers with enough purchasing power only to pursue one high-priced free agent within the next two years.

“It caught a lot of people off guard unexpectedly without him being back playing and showing how well he recovered from that injury,” Gasol said. “But other than that, it was a great extension for him. As far as me or For the team, what I’m most concerned about is how can you add other pieces around him, valuable pieces so we can win a title. That’s the only concern. I’m not familiar with the mathematics or the equation here. That’s the only concern.”

Gasol then reiterated he’ll concentrate on his play.

Partly because he’s played without any respiratory issues and a healthier left foot for the past 10 days, Gasol has averaged 22 points on 54.2 percent shooting and 10 rebounds in the past two games.

“I’m feeling good and like I’m moving well and I’m being assertive and being effective,” Gasol said. “I’m playing at a high level. I just want to continue to do that and that’s also helped the team. IT’s a perfect combo.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Mike D’Antoni still skeptical Kobe Bryant will play on Lakers’ trip

The Lakers extended Kobe Bryant’s contract for two more years for $48 million even though the superstar has yet to play this season while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in April. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The Lakers extended Kobe Bryant’s contract for two more years for $48 million even though the superstar has yet to play this season while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in April. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON D.C. — Kobe Bryant’s two-year, $48 million extension may have boosted his spirits. But it didn’t suddenly expedite his recovery on his torn left Achilles tendon.

Bryant won’t play tonight when the Lakers (7-7) visit the Washington Wizards (5-8) at Verizon Center. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni also doubts Bryant will play on the rest of the Laker’s week-long trip with stops in Brooklyn (Wednesday) and Detroit (Friday).

“That wouldn’t change it that [he] got a contract,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no indication, but he’s still working toward it and rehabbing it.”

Bryant didn’t speak to reporters after the Lakers’ morning shootaround. But it’s possible he will speak before the game presumably about his new contract and his recovery. D’Antoni sounded thrilled that this happened earlier than expected beyond securing Bryant playing with the Lakers through the 2015-16 season in what will mark his 20th year in one lone organization. D’Antoni also mentioned the Lakers and Bryant reached a deal well before media coverage would grow on an undecided issue.

But Bryant’s extension seemed surprising namely because the Lakers reached a deal with him before he even returned to the court, signaling the franchise’s unyielding optimism on how he will play once he fully heals his Achilles tendon.

“All indications show that. As hard as he works, I don’t know the whole thought process. I shouldn’t talk for them. Mitch needs to talk. But I think it’s a thing to showi loyalty and everything else and what he means to the franchise going forward. It’s good.”
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Five things to take from Kobe Bryant’s two-year extension

Kobe Bryant has agreed to a two-year extension with the Lakers, which will carry into his 20th NBA season. Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

Kobe Bryant has agreed to a two-year extension with the Lakers, which will carry into his 20th NBA season. Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

Below are five things to take from the Lakers signing Kobe Bryant to a two-year extension that a league source familiar with the deal said is worth $48 million:

1. The move reflected the Lakers’ optimism surrounding Bryant’s recovery: Bryant won’t play tonight when the Lakers (7-7) visit the Washington Wizards (5-8) at Verizon Center. But the Lakers haven’t penciled when Bryant will return from a torn left Achilles tendon beyond that. Still, that didn’t stop the Lakers from beginning formal negotiations with Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka,” in what a league source described as “a few weeks ago.” That timeline coincides with Bryant’s revamped activity including participating in two full practices last week.

Did Bryant’s step-back jumpers over Nick Young and Xavier Henry in practice suddenly convince the Lakers to reach a deal with the Black Mamba after initially planning to wait to see how he looks during his return? That’s a stretch, obviously. But the Lakers showed faith that Bryant’s well-documented ability to overcome injuries and prove a skeptical public will translate into his latest road to recovery.
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Kobe Bryant not back yet, but Lakers ensure he’ll be around with contract extension

kobe

Kobe Bryant will remain a Laker now that he has signed a two-year contract extension, as Vincent Bonsignore reports for the L.A. Daily News:

Kobe Bryant has yet to return from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered last April, but we now know where he’ll spend the final two years of his career.

 

Right where it all started – here in Los Angeles wearing the purple and gold of the Lakers.

 

The Lakers made that official Monday by signing Bryant to a two-year contract extension.

 

No financial terms were disclosed, but barring any unforeseen circumstances, it ensures Bryant will end his career with the Lakers, the new extension carrying him to a 20th season.

 

All of which will be spent with the Lakers.

 

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens.

 

Read more at Dailynews.com: Kobe Bryant not back yet, but Lakers ensure he’ll be around with contract extension

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