Lakers miss out on Carmelo Anthony, now they play kick the can

When Plan A went poof, the Lakers quickly moved on to Plan B.

And by Plan B, we mean kicking the can down the road a couple of years.

It’s all about the summer of 2016 now, folks.

Carmelo Anthony might not be coming, but hey, in two summers Kevin Durant will be a free agent and the Lakers should have plenty of money to throw at him.

Wait, where did we hear that before?

That’s right, last summer.

And the summer before that.

First Dwight Howard was going to lure Anthony or LeBron James to Los Angeles.

Then it was going be Anthony and James joining forces with the Lakers once Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s contracts came off the books this summer.

And the seamless transition to another era of dominance had commenced.

It made for fantastic sports talk radio.

But in reality, it was a pipe dream.
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Lakers moving on to Plan B?

Kobe Bryant insists the Lakers have a solid Plan B in place as they plot their summer remodeling project.

Not only are we about to find out what that fall-back strategy looks like, we’ll soon learn whether the Lakers can actually pull it off.

Because Plan A seemingly just went poof.

According to reports. free agent forward Carmelo Anthony has eliminated the Lakers from consideration, narrowing his decision down to the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.

No thanks, Hollywood.

What’s up, Windy City.

Glad to meet you, Phil Jackson.

And wouldn’t you just love to be a fork at the table tonight when Lakers president Jeanie Buss sits down for dinner with Jackson, her long time boyfriend.

“Honey, can you pass the salt….by the way, did you happen to catch the news about Carmelo?’

Ouch.

Meanwhile, does anyone want to play for the Lakers anymore?
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Lakers Steve Nash heard the cheers at Staples Center, and he appreciated it

By Vincent Bonsignore

Steve Nash checked into the Lakers game against the Washington Wizards on Friday with 3:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Nash, whose time in Los Angeles has been marked by how much he hasn’t played rather than how much he has, was making his first appearance in more than five weeks and playing in just his 11th game of the season.

There were nerves and uncertainty and admittedly, even Nash wasn’t sure what to expect after another long layoff and with his 40-year-old body still wobbly from back and hamstring injuries.

But for one moment, ambiguity was replaced by reassurance with the approving roar of the Staples Center crowd upon Nash’s name being announced.

The future Hall of Famer point guard heard the cheers.

And he appreciated it.

“My time in Los Angeles, as disappointing as it’s been, from a personal standpoint, it’s been unbelievably cool as far as the people have responded to me,” Nash said afterward. “The negative voices have always been the loudest. But the people in streets and public have been unbelievable. For the fans to give that type of reception means a lot to me.”

Nash went on to play 19 minutes in the Lakers loss to the Wizards, finishing with a season-high 11 assists and five points. He left with just over two minutes remaining when his body began acting up, saying later he thinks he caught the issue before it became a long-term issue.

He didn’t practice on Saturday, going through treatment instead. The plan is to try to get him loose Sunday morning and hope he’ll be able to play against the Magic.

Other than the hiccup in the closing minutes, the night was a success.

The loud cheers from Lakers fans setting a proper tone.

“Regardless of the reception, just to run up and down the Staples Center court, with these guys in front of these fans. It’s so priceless for me,” Nash said. “To get an ovation like that, that’s way more than I could ask for.”

The key now is how well Nash holds up over the final 14 games of the season, the outcome playing a significant role in his to-do list this summer.

Ideally Nash will spend the offseason preparing for the 2014-15 season, in which he’ll make $9.7 million in the final year of a three-year contract.

But that remains to be seen, the twinge he felt over the final minutes on Friday proof his long-term playing future in uncertain.

“For me, I don’t know what physically I have,” Nash said. “I know I can play at a good level when I’m moving well. But how long I can sustain that movement is interesting. I tweaked it and came out at the end of the game. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think I can play Sunday, if not the next game.

“I don’t know. I want to fight every bit. These last (14) games will give me an indication of what I need to do this summer.”

For most of one night, anyway, Nash was able to get up and down a basketball court fairly normally.

And he was able to contribute.

In that respect, he reaffirmed all the work he put in to come back – if only for a handful of games in a lost season.

“Is it worth it?’ he wondered.  “It is, just to feel good an make a play for your teammates and put pressure on the other team and move freely. It’s why I love this game and I have kept fighting and trying to work and get an opportunity.”

Making a wrong right? Popovich thinks Cavs did it bringing back Mike Brown

By Vincent Bonsignore

vincent.bonsignore@dailynews.com

twitter.com/@DailyNewsVinny

SAN ANTONIO – Count San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as pleased that former Lakers coach Mike Brown landed back on his feet Wednesday when Cleveland Cavaliers brought him back as their head coach.

Brown, a former Popovich assistant, was the Cavaliers head coach from 2005-10 and guided them to the NBA Finals in 2007 with LeBron James leading the way.

He was fired three years ago when the Cavaliers were trying to convince James to remain in Cleveland – hiring perceived James favorite Byron Scott to replace him.

The move doubly back-fired as James fled to Miami that summer and the Cavaliers floundered under Scott.

Popovich complimented Cleveland ownership for setting aside its pride and bringing Brown back.

“Not too many people recognize a (wrong) decision and do something to reverse it. “We’re usually too proud as human beings” Popovich said Wednesday before his Spurs played the Lakers in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

“So I thought that was pretty courageous on (ownerships) part and pretty wise because Mike is a hell of a coach,” Popovich added

 

 

AN UNEASY GREGG POPOVICH HEADS INTO LAKERS SERIES

By Vincent Bonsignore

vincent.bonsignore@dailynews.com

twitter.com/@DailyNewsVinny

SAN ANTONIO – In a rare moment of apprehension, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted he is wary of how his team is entering the first round of the playoffs against the Lakers.

Popovich, while talking to reporters before Game 1, said the Spurs were discombobulated during the final stretch of the regular season, in part because of injuries but also due to slippage defensively.

Whatever the reason, the Spurs dropped seven of their last 10 and approach the first round with more questions than Popovich can ever remember going into the playoffs.

And that leaves him uneasy.

“I’d lie to you if I told you differently,” Popovich said. “I didn’t think we ended the season very well. I think we ended it worse than I can ever remember the entire time I’ve been here. Going into the playoffs we’ve never been this discombobulated.”

The biggest concern is the step back the Spurs took defensively the last month of the season after they’d developed into one of the better defensive teams in the league.

“We were doing real well defensively compared to last year. We’d become one of the best teams in the league defensively after being mediocre the year before,” Poppovivh said.”That dissipated the last four weeks of the season. And that was a big concern.”

On top of that, injuries to Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker robbed the Spurs of continuity and two of their best players.

“That exasperated the situation,” Popovich said. “We’re not on a momentum roll or anything like that as we have been in the past. So I am concerned about that.”

METTA WORLD-PEACE RESPONDS TO CLAIMS HE PLAYS DIRTY

By Vincent Bonsignore

Like the sun rising from the east, it was inevitable Metta World-Peace would have a reaction to Denver coach George Karl essentially calling him a dirty player.

And like that same sun setting in the west, it was equally certain the response would be an instant classic.

When it comes to World-Peace, that’s just the way it goes.

So when Karl called out World-Peace Friday for what he described as “premeditated” elbow to the face of Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried as World-Peace tried to block Faried out during a game earlier this week, the Lakers colorful forward was ready to respond.

If you didn’t see the play, Faried came crashing through the lane on a Nuggets shot and World-Peace catches him with his left elbow as he attempted to get a body on him. The basket was good, the Lakers immediately called a time out and no foul was called.

But upon the NBA’s review of the play – World-Peace insists at the behest of the Nuggets – the league assessed him with a Flagrant-2 foul.

On top of that, Karl later complained World-Peace meant to do it.

By Saturday afternoon World-Peace was ready to defend himself, inviting a group of reporters to gather around him as he told his side of the story.

Admittedly, World-Peace said he probably could have shuffled his feet more to the baseline as he positioned himself for Faried.

At the same time, he could sense Faried bearing down on him and knew the play would be physical.

“They ask me did you see the guy coming? Yeah I saw him coming,” World-Peace said. “The best offensive rebounder is coming full speed; one of the most athletic guys in the league is coming full speed down your back. That impact, it’s not soft. It hurts me too.”

According to World-Peace, he simply braced himself for impact.

“When this guy is coming 100 miles per hour, or his top speed down my back, what else am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to skinny up?” World-Peace said. “What am I gonna do, but box out, like you were taught in school. Get your hands up, get down and box out.”

World-Peace insists his style of play is the result of watching the hardnosed NBA that defined the 1990’s, like the New York Knicks battling the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in which intimidation was every bit as important as skill.

In many ways, he claims he’s just a product of what he grew up watching.

“It’s not like I brought this aggression to the league. I didn’t invent this. This is what we watched. This is what we saw,” World-Peace said.

And Karl knows better than anyone, according to World-Peace.

“George Karl knows. He’s been in this NBA longer than me,” World-Peace said. “He knows the era of basketball.”

FARMAR SPEAKS

When it was all said and done, the Lakers did right by Jordan Farmar Wednesday when they declined to give the restricted guard a one-year, $2.8 million contract offer.

Because now Farmar gets exactly what he wants: Unrestricted free agency and an opportunity to shop himself around the NBA as a potential starting point guard.

Farmar and his agent asked the Lakers not to exercise their right to make the offer, which essentially means they will receive nothing in return if Farmar does leave as a free agent.

Had they done so, the Lakers could have matched any contract offer made to Farmar by other teams, severely limiting his maneuverability.

“I really appreciate what they did, because they didn’t have to, they could have treated me like a piece of real estate and potentially hurt my ability to take a serious look at what might be out there for me,” Farmar said by phone Wednesday. “So for that, I am thankful.”

The move doesn’t officially end Farmar’s Lakers career, which began four years ago when they drafted him in the first round out of UCLA and spanned three NBA Finals appearances and two world championships, but it’s very likely he won’t be back next season.

By all indications, the Lakers will bring back Derek Fisher, which would have meant another year as a backup rather than a starting job for Farmar.

And at this point in his career, the former Taft of Woodland Hills star wants a chance to branch out as a starter, to find out if he can be an upper-echelon point guard in the NBA, preferably with a team that runs an up-tempo offense rather than the slower triangle.

“That’s my goal, and I want to see what opportunities are out there for me as a starter,” Farmar said. “I know there is interest, and I’m looking forward to exploring my options. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to.”

Farmar, 23, is grateful for his time with his hometown Lakers, and if he does move on he will look back on his career in Los Angeles with fondness.

“I love everything about the organization, my teammates and this city,” Farmar said. “But ultimately I want a chance to start, and it’s something I looked forward to every single year here, but it just never happened. All I’ve ever wanted was a legitimate chance to start.”

Now he may finally get it.

VINCENT BONSIGNORE

Artest takes center stage at MH+L Magazine release party

Ron Artest continues to bask in the aftermath of the Lakers win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, and in the process he is giving fans a chance to see a different side of him.

Artest has been busy since the Finals doing the TV talk-show circuit and making the radio rounds, and on Friday he helped kick off MH+L magazine’s release party with a live performance of his new Rap single “Champions” along with Rap star and producer T-Pain.

I have to say, Ron looked pretty comfortable up on stage as he performed in front of about 300 or so VIP guests at J Lounge in downtown L.A.

The song, which he actually cut last year shortly after the Lakers ousted his Houston Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference playoffs, is not bad at all, and Ron seemed very much in his element while performing it.

“It’s funny because this is a side of me not too many fans know exists, but this is the music I love and people are slowly starting to recognize that I’m pretty decent, that I can do it,” Artest said.

As far as any stage fright, you can forget it. Artest looked more comfortable up there then he did playing in the triangle offense earlier this season.

“Initially I get a little nervous, but as soon as I hit the stage and the fans go crazy, boom, I am ready to go,” he said.

Artest is obviously enjoying his new-found celebrity, but he understands it all starts with what happens on the basketball court.

And it obviously doesn’t hurt he now calls Los Angeles home, and the team he plays for just happens to be the world champions.

“I’m just blessed to be in Los Angeles playing for the Lakers. The city makes the Lakers and the Lakers make me, and without any of that, there isn’t any of this,” Artest said. “And now that I have been blessed to win a championship, to be a champion, it’s given me the opportunity to come out here and perform and gave some fun.”

Music and rapping has always been a part of Artest’s life, a chance for him to express himself through his writing and performing.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” Artest said. “It comes from the heart, being able to go up there on stage and touch some people. I really love it.

“The key for me is keeping it real and trying to be inspirational. It’s not an easy thing, taking your feelings and your words and trying to make a song people will like. But I enjoy the process.”

VINCENT BONSIGNORE

Buzz: Lamar update

I spoke with someone inside the Lakers organization who said Mitch Kupchak and Lamar Odom agent Jeff Schwartz have been in steady contact since the Lakers pulled their latest contract offer to Lamar last week.

Although the Lakers insider didn’t describe the contact as “negotiations” obviously they aren’t talking about summer vacation plans.

This jives with reports that talks have heated up in recent days, although the insider did say he didn’t sense anything had significantly changed.

On the other hand, the fact that they are talking means both sides are open to a resolution, and when two sides are motivated things can come together quickly.

In any event, I should be getting an update later this afternoon, and if anything is cooking I’ll post it as soon as I can.

Report: Lamar called Dr. Buss Thursday

Our good friend Jim Hill over at KCBS is reporting that Lamar Odom personally called Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss Thursday to try and rebuild any bridges damaged by Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, during contract negotiations.

Dr. Buss pulled his last offer to Odom off the table earlier this week after Schwartz didn’t respond back. Looks like Lamar might be taking charge of the negotiations, or at least trying to bring Dr. Buss and the Lakers back to the table.

Stay tuned.