NBA FrontPage: Gasol Rules France, Kobe’s Minutes, Lawson Competition

No disrespect to Dirk Nowitzki but Pau Gasol is the best European player of his generation. The 3rd pick in the 2001 NBA Draft and Rookie of the Year is a seven footer who uses both hands, has expert footwork, graceful agility in the lane and is a skilled scorer. Gasol has two NBA titles, is a 5-time All-Star, was the recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and is the all-time leading scorer in Memphis Grizzlies franchise history despite being traded from the franchise seven years ago. Gasol’s 2014-15 season ended disastrously as he was plagued by another injury. But his international career is the same as it always is, Gasol leading Spain to another European championship appearance.

Spain played France in the EuroBasket 2015 tournament, the semi-final round. On the line was a trip to the finals and an automatic entry to the Olympics. Gasol was extraordinary. 40 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, a game for the ages in which he stunned the entire country of France, who, eliminated Spain last year in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup. In overtime, Gasol had eight points punctuated by a massive dunk to seal the victory that advanced Spain to the championship while Tony Parker and Rudy Gobert tasted the bitter sorrow of defeat in front their teary-eyed countrymen.

Kobe Bryant: Undergoing rotator cuff surgery on January 29th, Kobe Bryant was facing a 9-month recovery. A couple weeks ahead of schedule, he was cleared for all training camp and basketball activities which doesn’t mean he should do everything that dictator Byron Scott has up his sleeve in his grueling two-a-days. Scott acknowledged he’ll cap Bryant’s minutes, something he failed to do last season which fatigued Bryant. It wasn’t the cause of the injury; Bryant damaged his shoulder in training camp. But it did contribute to Bryant’s overall weariness. His 20th and possible last NBA season up ahead, Scott is aware of the pressure to keep Bryant healthy.

“I think the biggest decision is playing time, trying to make that as limited as possible and also back to back games. We’ve talked about playing time, we’re going to probably sit down as we get closer to training camp or as we get in training camp and even talk more about it. Because the one thing I want if this is his last year, I want him to go out standing. I don’t want him to get hurt. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure we stick to the game plan as far as his minutes.” (Byron Scott to Orange County Register)

Ty Lawson hasn’t humbled himself after rehab and two DUI arrests but none of that matters once training camp starts and he is in an open competition with Patrick Beverley to be the starting point guard for the Houston Rockets. It sounds insane. Lawson is a career 14 points, 7 assists floor leader while Beverley, a tough defender and irritant not known for his offense and playmaking skills, has put up 9 points and 3 assists in his career. So what gives?

Kevin McHale wants a competition and he has declared it is anyone’s job. Sounds like he is gift wrapping it for Lawson except Beverley is a tough competitor who has been through some things in his NBA career. He’s not going to just roll over and concede because Lawson is the better player. Beverley took the starting point guard job away from Jeremy Lin. So he’s uncompromising when it counts.

As for McHale, he only sees the advantages.

“Can we play them together? We’ll find out. We’ll put them out there. We had 28 days of camp. We’ll decide who will get the lion’s share of minutes. One will and one will be a backup.” (reported by Jonathan Feigen for the Houston Chronicle)

Steve Nash: He will be a part time player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors. As if they need any more advantages other than the ones at their disposal, why not add a Hall of Fame best of his generation, two-time MVP point guard?

Nash is a Steph Curry idol and considering their similarities it is a no-brainer to have Nash take Curry’s game up a notch. Even Curry can improve. As for Curry, besides being excited by the new addition, he had a little fun at Steve Kerr’s expense.

“Finally we have a decent coach around here.”

 

photo via Wikimedia.org