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NBA AM: Is The End In Sight For Kobe Bryant?
Posted By Steve Kyler On October 9, 2012 @ 9:16 am In All,NBA | No Comments
Is The End Near For Kobe?: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has two more seasons and some $58.3 million remaining on his contract with the team. Kobe has five NBA championships and desires two more to eclipse his long time idol Michael Jordan, who has six rings. With two years left on his current deal, it’s assumed if Bryant can get at least one more championship he might consider retiring after his deal is up. If he gets that elusive second ring, it’s all but assured he’ll hang them up.
“One can never be too sure,” Bryant said to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
There has been talk recently of Kobe sticking around after his current deal, something Bryant says he’s not sure about.
“Three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.
“It’s not about health necessarily. It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?”
Bryant is almost legendary with his offseason work ethic, training as hard as anyone in the league to stay in top condition. Over the last few years, Bryant has learned that any drop off in his offseason program has had a huge impact on his health during the season, which is what will weigh on the final decision.
Bryant said he never doubted that the Lakers would turn the team around again, pointing to the numerous time the franchise has reinvented itself to stay among the league’s elite.
“Right after the series against Oklahoma, I just had a lot of belief in our organization,” Bryant said. “I knew how much the Buss family, Jeanie and so forth, wanted to turn it around. I had a lot of faith in the organization. I’ve seen them do it. They rebuilt first by picking up Shaq … then that era was over and they rebuilt again. And now they’ve rebuilt again. I’ve seen them do it before.”
Bryant also said he’s not at all worried about how newcomer Dwight Howard will fit in with Los Angeles, pointing to the way Howard plays and his personality as a perfect fit for the Lakers.
“I don’t think he needs to understand anything [about being a Laker],” Bryant said. “I think he just needs to come in and do what he normally does. There’s some things that I’ll teach him just in terms of the approach to the game and how to manipulate defenses and things like that. But I think he just comes here and has a good time. He has a great personality, which is perfect for this city.”
If Bryant wants two more championships before he hangs them up, this current Lakers team could give him his best shot. If getting one ring in the next two years is enough, then the odds are heavily in Kobe’s favor. If getting two is the goal, Kobe might have to stick around a little longer because the Western Conference is extremely tough and a victory lap for Kobe also has to go through Miami, Boston or New York and it’s not a given that a Finals appearance equals a championship for Bryant.
Tracy’s Trip To China: After trying fruitlessly to secure a guaranteed contract with an NBA team, free agent Tracy McGrady has agreed to a one-year deal in China with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles.
According to Jon Pastuszek of niubball.com, Qingdao general manager, Sheng Xishun, confirmed that McGrady’s camp has agreed to the terms of a deal, but that McGrady has not actually signed the contract.
“We’ve had detailed conversations with McGrady’s agent before, there’s been a mutual trust between both sides,” said Sheng to Sina Sports. “We came to a verbal agreement very quickly. His agent based the contract around our talks and once he sent it over, we made some amendments and gave it back to him. After he looked at it, he indicated his approval and said he’d let McGrady look at it. But because one of McGrady’s agents is on the east coast and one is on the west, we need some time. We’re still waiting for official word from McGrady.”
If McGrady actually signs the contract and joins the Double Star Eagles, he would be prohibited from joining an NBA team until March when the CBA season ends.
League sources said that McGrady did have interest from several NBA teams, all of which were unwilling to fully guarantee his deal.
The Kid Named Andrew: Super recruit Andrew Wiggins, a 6’7 small forward, was supposed to attend Kentucky’s Midnight Madness event in Lexington this week, however there have been reports that the top player in the 2014 class might skip the event in favor of a weekend at home with his family before the start of his high school season.
Wiggin’s high school coach Rob Fulford of Huntington Prep said fans shouldn’t read too much into it, if Wiggins does not attend.
“I’m sure he’ll be there soon, if he doesn’t make it this weekend. ” Fulford said to Corey Albertson of CatsIllustrated.com. “If Kentucky fans don’t see Andrew this weekend there is absolutely no reason to hit the panic button. There’s no doubt that Andrew will get down to Kentucky for at least one game this season.”
Fulford has been outspoken about Wiggins’ recruitment, saying that too many schools have conceded that Wiggins is either going to Kentucky or to Florida State, where his parents are alumni.
“Kentucky is definitely at the top of the list along with Florida State. Those two schools are doing by far the best job of recruiting Andrew,” said Fulford, “North Carolina is involved but not to the extent that the other two are.
“It’s kind of a little unfortunate, but a lot of other schools have already given up on Andrew. Everyone seems to think that it’s a lock that it will come down to Florida State and Kentucky. A lot of these schools want to move on to guys that they think they can get, but that doesn’t make sense to me with it being so early in his recruitment.”
The Canadian-born Wiggins is said to be considering reclassifying into the 2013 high school class and apparently has the grades to jump ahead a year. If Wiggins does indeed move up, his recruitment becomes all the more important especially to Kentucky who recently landed a commitment from the Harrison twins out of Texas.
Aaron and Andrew Harrison both measure in at 6’5, play the guard spots and are among the top guard prospects in the nation. Adding Wiggins to the mix almost insures Kentucky a strong tournament run, so the intrigue around Wiggins has weight especially for next season.
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Fitting In In Minney: Andrei Kirilenko spent the lockout shortened season playing for CSKA Moscow and averaged 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds on his way to winning the 2011-2012 Euroleague MVP award. All signs pointed to Kirilenko staying in Russia and then the Minnesota Timberwolves ponied up a two-year, $20 million offer.
“I really feel like I belong here,” Kirilenko said to Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune.
“I’ve always been a guy who likes the energetic style of the game: Running, moving, pass, cut and I think this team is going to be very, very good fit for me. It’s very, very good basketball for me.”
Kirilenko struggled with his situation in Utah and those around him hinted that heading back to Europe to finish his career was more likely than not. After a few weeks with the Timberwolves, Andrei says he feels good about his new team and leader Kevin Love.
“It feels right,” Kirilenko said. “I’m not having any problems getting along with the guys, everybody is being so helpful. Kevin’s is doing a great job as the face of this team, being friendly but at the same time showing good example for everybody. It’s the right place for me.”
The Timberwolves open their preseason schedule tomorrow in Fargo North Dakota versus the Indiana Pacers. Their first home preseason game is Saturday versus the Chicago Bulls.
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