Lakers News, Rumors 2014: Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, Marc Gasol

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
December 2, 2014 Updated: December 3, 2014

The Los Angeles Lakers grabbed two nice wins in the past couple days and are now looking for more as the news and rumors ramp up.

Check out the latest buzz below.

Bryant Looking to Facilitate

Kobe Bryant’s impressive distribution against the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons helped the Lakers get the two wins, and Kobe said he’s open to similar games.

But he also noted that his teammates need to make shots, something they have not many other games.

“The difference is, when they make them, I don’t have to force the offense. When you miss them, and you go down 12, 15 points, then I’ve got to try and force the issue a little bit and keep us in the ball game,” he told ESPN.

“But when they hit shots like that, it makes my job easier.”

Bryant had his first triple-double since 2013 against the Raptors, finishing with 31 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds.

“He got a lot of people going and got them in a rhythm different from the way they’ve been playing,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

Teammates complimented Kobe as well.

“Kobe’s playmaking gave us a chance,” said Lakers forward Carlos Boozer, who scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. “They put two people on him, and it gave us a chance to eat early. We were aggressive with the ball, and it kept going throughout the game.”

The Raptors game came after Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley noted that the Lakers were difficult to guard when Kobe was facilitating for them in the first half of the game against the Grizzlies. But the offense reverted to a whole lot of Kobe in the second half, and the Lakers lost.

Kobe, meanwhile, said that he spends a lot of time taking care of his body to be able to play more than 40 minutes on some nights at age 36. 

“It’s 24-7 in terms of maintenance & therapy & taking care of my body,” he told reporter Mike Trudell. “Dude: when I say it’s around the clock, it’s around the clock.”

Coach Byron Scott said Kobe “looked exhausted” on Monday’s flight, so he gave him off on shootaround on Tuesday before the Pistons game. But Kobe played, garnering 12 points, 13 assists, and 5 rebounds as he helped the Lakers improve to 4-0 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

Bryant looked flustered for most of the first half, as his passes weren’t connecting, his shots weren’t falling, and his Lakers were locked in a back-and-forth struggle.

But vintage Bryant showed up, albeit briefly, in the third quarter to hoist Los Angeles out of its rut for a 106-96 victory Tuesday night.

Bryant scored all 12 of his points in a row. The Pistons held the NBA’s leading scorer without a point in the first half, but still lost their ninth in a row.

“I was tired,” Bryant said. “The first half, I missed a couple of easy ones. The rhythm of the game really wasn’t there.”

“Just paced it out a little bit and came out in the second half and let the game come to me. I made a couple shots and stepped on the gas,” he said.

Bryant had been averaging almost 27 points per game. His burst helped the Lakers take an 81-65 lead heading into the final period and eventually win 106-96.

“It was a critical juncture where we could stretch the game out, and we were able to do that,” he said.

Scott Discusses Lin

Jeremy Lin #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on November 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Jeremy Lin #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on November 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

 

Jeremy Lin was among the Lakers players who did well in the past two games, and Scott noted that he just needs to continue to work hard.

“Scott talked more about Jeremy Lin, saying he needs to master more PG instincts,” reported Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News.

“Noted with Knicks he had ball 95 percent of the time.”

Bryant essentially runs the point at some points in the games, leaving Lin in an off-ball spot. Lin seems to be handling his role better and better. Lin had 11 points and 3 assists against the Raptors and 11 points and 5 assists against the Pistons.

Scott also laughed when he was asked whether he consulted with former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni about how to use Lin.

Scott also said that he still hasn’t spoken with Steve Nash, who is making $9.7 million this season but not playing due to injury. 

“Steve’s a busy guy and I’m a busy guy as well,” Scott said. “We’re missing each other. I don’t think he misses sleep over it and I don’t miss any sleep over it, you know? He’s a great guy. I’ve known Steve for a long time, so for us to not be able to get in contact with one another at this particular time, to me it’s not a big deal.”

Nash is expected to return at some point if he’s not traded to provide mentorship to players like Lin.

“He could, but like we said in the beginning, we want Steve to do that on his own time frame,” Scott said. “When you’re out for the season, you’ve been doing this for your whole life, that’s hard to take.”

Lakers Evaluating Options

Earl Clark is on the Lakers radar while the team looks to apply for the NBA’s hardship exception, which enables teams to add 16 players on their roster when they have four players with overlapping injuries.

The NBA has already granted disabled player exceptions for the season-ending injuries of Steve Nash and Julius Randle.

Xavier Henry also suffered a season-ending injury, while Ryan Kelly will miss at least five more weeks.

“We would have to find a better player than who is on our roster now since you have to cut somebody,” said general manager Mitch Kupchak, referring to the NBA allowing a maximum of 15 players on a roster, reported Medina.

“I’m not sure those players exist as free agents. When we get something closer to the trade deadline, there might be something there.”

A league source confirmed the Lakers had talks with Clark, and he could be signed any day now. The deal, believed to be one-year for $1 million, could wait until the exception is granted, or the Lakers could waive Henry, who is guaranteed $1.1 million.

Kupchak also took the time to praise coach Scott.

“I think Byron’s done a great job,” Kupchak said. “He’s instilling his culture and players compete and work hard in practice. It’s very organized and he likes to work. He’s got his hands full with the roster, but right now we can’t put anything together insignificant. But I think he’s doing a great job.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.