Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Kobe Bryant has been sidelined again by
a serious leg injury and that leads to questions about the end, both for his
Hall of Fame career and the Los Angeles Lakers season.
Let's answer them briefly.
First, no freaking chance at all Bryant goes out like this.
Secondly, no freaking chance on Earth the Lakers make the postseason.
Bryant is not the type of person to leave the sport on crutches. In the game
where he suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, a
win in Memphis on Tuesday, Bryant played almost seven minutes in the fourth
quarter after he thought he hyperextended the knee.
Basically, he played the second half on a broken knee.
"He continued to play until the very end, which again, shows how tough Kobe
is, how much he's able to play through and what he's able to play through,"
said Pau Gasol.
Bryant returned from the Achilles tear and resulting surgery within the
appropriate window, maybe a little early. This latest setback is on the same
leg. My formal medical training is not in orthopedics, so who knows if the two
injuries are intertwined.
"I don't think so," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There's always a risk
until he gets completely used to playing, but the doctors are all over it.
That's just bad luck."
D'Antoni isn't a doctor either. If the injuries have anything at all to do
with each other, it's most likely not going to end there. Also, remember
Bryant has been to Germany more often than Hasselhoff to spin his own blood in
an effort to aid his knees.
At 35, Bryant has another significant rehab ahead of him. Maybe, he can take a
little more time this go around, which coincides with the second question.
Whether or not Bryant returns in six weeks or 10, the Lakers are going
nowhere this season.
I'll never support the logic of shutting someone down for the rest of the
season for a six-week injury. If Bryant feels it's worse than the original
diagnosis, which could very well be possible, maybe the Lakers make him a
spectator for the season.
But Bryant is tireless and fearless. He will do everything humanly possible to
return, but needs to appreciate reality.
At .500 before Kobe's first return, the Lakers weren't in the playoff hunt.
Not playing any better with him in the lineup, L.A. didn't enhance its
Six weeks without Bryant surely won't improve their positioning in the loaded
The Lakers have no one on their roster currently who can play point guard.
Steve Nash is out another month. Steve Blake is gone for a month and Jordan
Farmer at least a week. Bryant was the point guard lately and on Friday,
Xavier Henry will most likely be the lead man. He has 92 assists in 158 games.
Gasol has been un-Pau since D'Antoni took over. Lately, the two are bickering
in public like a couple of Real Housewives.
This is a perfect chance for the Lakers to try and improve their situation
past this season, a situation that frankly, needs a lot of improvement.
The Lakers have Bryant signed for two more years at $48 million. Wish you had
that one to do over, Mr. Buss? As much money as that is, maybe the Lakers
brass should've gotten a peek at the goods before they staked their future on
Bryant's now twice-injured leg.
Bryant, Nash, Robert Sacre and Nick Young (player option) are the only players
the Lakers have under contract next season. That's not a great nucleus, not in
The plan all along has been to encourage LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony to go
west. Maybe, a backup plan should be in place somewhere.
The Lakers need a youth infusion. Have you heard about the 2014 NBA Draft
If Bryant takes the slow path to a return, or elects to not return this
season, the Lakers will lose some games and improve their situation in the
It's tanking, but not really tanking.
That leaves one last major decision - do the Lakers trade Gasol, who is a
free-agent in the offseason?
The last two seasons under D'Antoni have brought career-lows in scoring and
field-goal percentage. D'Antoni hasn't figured out to maximize Gasol's talents
and Gasol hasn't figured out how to keep quiet about that fact.
Here are the options:
1. Sign Gasol to a long-term deal. Pass.
2. Trade Gasol for long-term pieces. Doubtful any team would give you young
assets or picks for a player on the decline.
3. Trade Gasol for another team's Gasol. Possible, but do the Lakers want
Carlos Boozer for a few more years?
4. Trade Gasol for garbage. Unlikely, but more realistic. If they get three
unnecessary pieces for Gasol, how does that help? Sure, you get money if you
don't keep any of the players around, but it'd be the same as keeping Gasol.
5. Sign Gasol to a cap-friendlier deal in the offseason. Interesting, since
the Spaniard isn't probably going to command a big contract.
6. Keep him and let him walk. And maybe wait to spend money until next
offseason if James or Anthony doesn't bite.
The Lakers took Gasol off the market, but that was before Bryant went down
again. Who knows now, but the Lakers are not an organization that seems
alright with tanking.
And if Bryant does return, tanking will not happen. He won't allow it.
There are silver linings in every situation. Bryant's injury can accelerate
the Lakers semi-rebuilding process and actually help what looked to be a dire
- The fact that the Rockets couldn't move Omer Asik says, to me anyway, that
they asked way too much for him. He makes a ton of loot next season and asking
for multiple picks might be a tad steep for a player who's enjoyed one good
- Anthony Davis was the latest player to come back early from an injury. Seems
to be a trend. I think Adrian Peterson and Derrick Rose ruined it for
everyone. AP came back so soon for the Minnesota Vikings from a torn ACL and
it made everyone look bad if they weren't superman. Rose took so long and you
don't want to be branded soft if you're not back as soon as humanly possible.
- Danny Granger is back for the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Still think he could
be traded, but if he integrates himself into that second unit nicely, what a
huge pickup he'd be.
- The most shocking player in the top 15 of top-selling jerseys is Michael
Carter-Williams. Guess kids like long names.
- Movie moment - Watched "Election" on Tuesday and realized Reese Witherspoon,
despite winning an Oscar since, has actually never been better than that role.
- TV moment - I'd say my favorite show of 2013 was "Veep." The episode
"Helsinki" was the best of the season and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is turning into
a top five comedic television actress all-time. Least-favorite show is
anything at all on E!
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