Where do the Lakers go from here?


(Getty Images) There will be changes in Lakerland. This is how it goCity forward Diallang Jaiyesimi on a season-long loan deal.The 21-year-old scored two goals in nine league games at Yeovil last season before an anterior cruciate ligament injury ended his campaign in September.Jaiyesimi is yet to make his senior debes. The do notero Emmanuel Frimpong says they should move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.Frimpong believes the towering centre-back would make a big impact on Unai Emery’s side.“I watched the game against Watford and it wasn’t good. Our defence is certain accept being second tier, being second class, being second rate. They swing and swing and upgrade and somehow land stars for discounts because they live somewhere nice and are really popular. So this, this will not fly. The Lakers’ organization is not a sentimental one. It doesn’t keep players around because they are good people or have strong ties to the organization or the community. Its business is winning and it takes it seriously. It’s this paradigm that lead to Mike Brown being hired without having discussed the question with . It’s this line of thought that lead to the trades of and . Be it for financial or basketball reasons (ahem), the Lakers are interested in success, and will do whatever they think is best to reach it. A second round exit in five games is not going to cut it. Following the Lakers’ five-game series loss to the Oklahoma City , there are a number of questions that stand forefront. Typically the answer would be an automatic yes, as most organizations won’t pay for a coach’s full contract after just one season, especially a lockout-shortened one in which the team still managed to nab the fourth seed. But Brown’s issues weren’t just tactical adjustments to the and Thunder, nor were they chemistry and personal issues with Kobe Bryant and . Brown never got the team to buy into what he was selling, and that goes above and beyond. There are better coaches on the market than there were a yealson Fernandes is set to join Mainz in an £8million deal.The Sunsays the 23-year-old has agreed terms with the Bundesliga club and will complete the switch soon.The Switzerland international has spent three years with the Hammers.Fernandes spent ther ago, and it wouldn’t shock anyone to see the Lakers go in a different direction. If Brown is retained, expect there to be more pressure on him to work with his talent to appease them, despite Kobe Bryant getting more looks than in the past and Andrew Bynum having significantly more plays in the post. If Brown stays, there will be more give asked from the give-and-take relationship. Letting down Kobe Bryant once in the playoffs is unfortunate, but given that Gasol helped Bryant win two titles, he had some credit on file. No longer. Not after two straight performances where his no-show directly contributed to the Lakers’ downfall. Bryant was visibly frustrated with Gasol during Game 5, and if anyone will be scapegoated, it will be Gasol. Gasol maintains a significant value on the trade market, and should the team elect to move forward with a new core, it will be Gasol used to bring it in. Someone has to take the blame for the 2012 campaign. Phil Jackson bit the bullet last year, even as he was on his way towards an exit anyway. The Lakers disavowed him as any part of the organization last season. Gasol may fave the same treatment as all the service he’s provided the Lakers in two championships in the past five years is wiped away under the memories of these soft, deferring, and weak-willed playoff performances. Bynum frustrated fans with his inconsistent play, but Lakers management has given him this long a leash, it’s hard to see that changing any time soon. Bynum will likely stay in L.A., but if the Lakers choose to pursue , a sign-and-trade with Bynum will be tops on the options list. It was Sessions whose play after the trade deadline helped boost the Lakers to their division title and the third seed in the West. But under the lights of the playoffs, he failed miserably, shooting a low percentage and turning the ball over constantly in Game 5. The Lakers need a dominant point guard to manage the offense (and Kobe’s shots). They couldn’t get . If Paul is still unavailable, will they go after ? Or is Sessions the best answer they have? This decision will be a dividing point for Laker fans in free agency. It’s nothing anyone wants to talk about, but Kobe Bryant is set to make $58 million over the next two seasons. $58. Million. Dollars. That’s crippling under the new CBA, and that’s before you start calculating the repeater tax and the luxury tax escalations kicking into effect in 2013. The Lakers can’t live with that contract and contend. It’s not possible, outside of managing to draft two Hall of Famers on rookie contracts to immediately contribute. This is the Lakers so that’s not out of the question, but it does seem unlikely. How the Lakers handle the end of the Kobe Bryant era is going to be a very touchy subject. It’s unlikely they do anything yet, but that $30 million in 2014 is going to weigh heavily on the mind of Mitch Kupchak, should Kupchak remain in L.A.. The fact of the matter is that the Lakers are headed into uncertain territory. All we know is there will be drama, and the Lakers will be back. There always is, and they always are.


Eye on Basketball Podcast: Can the Lakers even win one?


Matt Moore joins me on Thursday’s podcast to go over the action from the fifth day of the NBA playoffs. The put up a good fight against the , but the trio of , and were too much for them. The showed great resolve against the , but and his young teammates couldn’t quite pull it off and steal a game on the road. And the failed miserably against the , showing that they just can’t match up against the Spurs without an elite wing scorer. Have the Lakers showed us anything to feel good about their chances moving forward?

Phil Jackson has tos Ralph Hasenhuttl believes that his side must “get back to basics” if they are to get out of their current slump.The Saints are struggling to get wins to climb out of the relegation places, with their woes compounded by their 2-1 loss to Everton befld reporters that he has been contacted by three or four teams about a front-office position, but none of it involves coaching. Is this the only way to get Brian Shaw a head coaching job? Could Phil make any franchise successful by implementing the triangle offense? Would a team consider having him coach just 41 home games and not travel on the road during the regular season? Is th’s surprised himself with his success this season.Since his summer arrival from Swansea City, the youngster confessed he was surprised by the faith put in him straight away.”I’m very pleased,” James said. “When I came here I didn’t expect to play so at a viable situation to turn a team into a contender?

We discuss all of that, plus ‘ offense, vs. , and preview Thursday night’s action.

Have questions for the podcast? Send them to  or ask them on Twitter with the hashtag  and we’ll answer them on the show.

. You , and you should  Pepe.Arsenal should have moved for Wilfried Zaha due to the Crystal Palace winger’s top-flight experience, insists Jordan.He said: “Zaha is an established Premier League player. Wilf came out of my academy and part of the group of players I produced on Facebook. Follow .


Nuggets-Warriors Game 5: Hitmen, Mark Jackson, and a street fight noir


DENVER– And all of a sudden, the series that was all about ‘s fire and the rising to the clouds has become about trash, dirt, and hit men. Welcome to the street fight noir, authored by Denver and Golden State after the ‘ Game 5 win.

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Mark Jackson got the ball rolling in his post-game presser, saying the Nuggets sent “hit men” at his star point guard.

“They tried to send hit men on (Stephen Curry), but I give them credit… There were some dirty plays early. It’s playoff basketball; it’s all right. Make no mistake about it: we went up 3-1 playing hard, physical, and clean basketball, not trying to hurt anyone.”

Then Mark Jackson dropped this bomb, claiming that there was dissention inside the Nuggets about deliberate attempts to injure Curry.

“I have inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball, and they clearly didn’t co-sign it so they wanted to let me know that they had no part in what was taking place.”

Curry backed his coach’s viewpoint after the game.

“I’m going through the paint minding mind my own business and they’re coming out of nowhere trying to throw elbows,” he said.

“They’ve got a hit out on me, I don’t know what it is.”

Pretty strong comments from the team up 3-2.

sat down to talk to reporters, then was called into the hall to talk to Mark Jackson. When he returned, Jack denied any and all implications of “dirty play.”

“It was good defense,” Jack said. “We welcome good defense. It felt like good defense and we liked it.”

The Nuggets, to no surprise, vehemently denied the accusation, and true to form, turned it right back arouts the club considered selling Wilfried Zaha in the summer.The winger has a long contract and is the club’s highest earner, but he demanded a move to Arsenal or Everton in the transfer window.Eventually, Zaha stayed. But Hodgson admitted that it coulnd on the Warriors.

“That’s surprising to me if you watch the first couple of games,” point guard said. “Just watch and watch and Festus (Ezili). I guaranteverton.Hodgson suggested his side played better than the 3-1 scoreline suggests.Speaking after the match, he broke down the clash from his perspective in the dugout: “I thought we played well for large parts. Not right at the start or the late stage.e you you’ll find dirty playsnham and Barcelona striker Kevin-Prince Boateng has sung the praises of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.Boateng played for Klopp at Borussia Dortmund in 2009 for six months.The Fiorentina striker told Foot Mercato: “He knows how to captivate you. I don’t.

I wouldn’t even say they were dirty plays, I’d say they were physical plays. More physical plays than we’re used to in the regular season.”

So are the Nuggets insulted by the accusation?

“A little bit. You gotta look at yourself before you point fingers. Andrew Bogut, he chucked in the face a couple of times. We’re just trying to even out the series with physical play.”

Nugget players acted surprised when informed of the Warriors’ comments, citing the same things Lawson did.

George Karl, after all questions had been asked post-game, said, asked wryly, and without solicitation:

“Did Draymond Green play football or basketball at Michigan State?”

The reality is that this series ramped up in Game 5 as the Nuggets hit back on a Warriors team that had embarassed them for three games. And instead of Curry finding open space and freedom to move, the Nuggets crowded and attacked him, bumped him and ran him through screens.

Jackson has managed to switch the narrative. Instead of talking about a lost opportunity or the pressure of Game 6, the talk will be about whether the Nuggets are dirty. That will be the discussion, and in doing so, he’s put an emotional rallying point around the team. We’ll see if it pays off in the friendly confines of Roaracle Thursday night. 


Draft Buzz: Rockets make play for Dwight


(US Pry Kane with Tottenham and England.Stephens saw Kane first hand as a 17-year-old when he was on loan at Leyton Orient.The Albion midfielder, who was playing for Oldham in League One at that time, has backed Kane to be a record breaker.Stephens said: resswire)

The always seem to be in the mix when it comes to the big names. There’s no bigger name on the trade market this summer than , and Houston is making a bold push to acquire two top-10 picks in an effort to trade for the All-Star center, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

Houston agreed Tuesday to send to the fving for Mario Gotze.Gotze is being linked with the Gunners this week.But BVB sporting director Michael Zorc says that the player has not made any overtures to leave, and that a new contract is currently on the club’s agenda.“We have heard rumours or the No. 18 pick in Thursday’s draft, giving the Rockets the 14th, 16th and 18th picks. But sources said the Rockets aren’t done; they’re trying to parlay those picks and other assets into two picks in the top 10 to entice to send them Howard.

The Rockets, who similarly pursued a trade with for without assurances that the All-Star would sign there long-term, are prepared to move forward with a Howard trade without a guarantee from the 7-footer that he’d sign a long-term deal. Howard is on the books for only one more year at $19.5 million and would become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.

If Houston fails to land Howard, the team is said to be interested in forward as a fallback option. The Hawks’ newly signed general manager, Danny Ferry, may have to move Smith this summer after the Atlanta native expressed a desire for a change of scenery.

Other draft buzz from conversations with executives and agents with the draft a little more than 48 hours away:

* After Anthony Davis goes to New Orleans with the No. 1 pick, the next four picks, in some order, will be Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes, sources say. The draft really begins with the sixth pick, with strong indications in recent days that the would take Damian Lillard of Weber State. But in the past 24 hours, two other names have surfaced with respect to Portland: Dion Waiters and Austin Rivers. That could be an indication that Portland is considering trading the pick.

* wants Beal and has offered the No. 4 pick and either the 33rd or 34th pick to Charlotte for the No. 2 pick, which would allow the Cavs to jump ahead of and land the Florida guard. The hangup is that Charlotte, not in love with anyone available at No. 2, wants Cleveland’s 24th pick. Cleveland also has had converester City in positive spirits tonight.The popular, vastly-experienced former City defender returns to the club with whom he won six trophies over the course nine successful years.He told West Ham’s website: “I have said that this will be my final sations with (No. 5) and Golden State (No. 7), but the Charlotte deal makes the most sense and sources say there is enough momentum and desire on both sides to get it done. The like Robinson and Barnes, and at least one of them will be available at No. 4; if Cleveland got Beal with the second pick, Washington might take Barnes at No. 3, sources said.

* Waiters is one of three players the are considering with the seventh pick.

* The would take Waiters with the eighth pick, but if he’s gone, sources say Toronto would take Rivers or Jeremy Lamb.

* The would “absolutely” take Andre Drummond with the ninth pick. If he’s gone, Detroit is believed to be comfortable with John Henson or Tyler Zeller.

* Rounding out the top 10, the are believed to be targeting Rivers, Lamb or Meyers Leonard, sources said. The wild card of the top 15 is Jared Sullinger based on concerns over a medical issue with his back.


Brooklyn Nets fire coach Avery Johnson


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Goodbye, Brooklyn.

Less than a month ago, Avery Johnson was named Coach of the Month. And now, he’s been fired as coach of the .

The team announced Thursday that Johnson has been relieved of his coaching duties. After starting the season strong at 11-4, the Nets have dropped 10 of their last 13 games to fall to 14-14.

“The Nets ownership woof the season against Red Star Belgrade.The Reds were beaten Belgrade in the group stage and narrowly qualified for the knockout rounds.Speaking ahead of the final against Tottenham on Saturday, Henderson said Klopp doesn’t react to poor performancesuld like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future,” owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a release.

Assistant P.J. Carlesimo is expected to take over interim coaching duties, .

the firing has come as a shock to some within the organization.

“While not unforeseen given the Nets’ struggles, firing Johnson caught some in the organization off guard. Clearly a Prokhorov decision,” Berger tweeted. “It was believed that Johnson would be given more time to turn things around after nine losses in 12 games against mostly winning teams.”

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Johnson became the Nets head coach in 2010 after taking a break from coaching following being fired by the Dallas Mavericks. Withd coach Ronald Koeman has told Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt to choose his next club carefully.De Ligt is a target for Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus.”I spoke to Matthijs one week ago about his future, and that’s a secret,” Koeman said.”Wh the Nets in three seasons he compiled a record of 60-116. Overall as a coach though, he’s 254-186 with an NBA Finals appearance.

Johnson was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract. He’s the second coach to be fired this season as the Lakers relieved Mike Brown just five games into the campaign.

Tension has been mounting recently as the Nets offense completely went in the tank with point guard being the Nets were using. He seemed to publicly campaign for a return to the flex offense he ran in Utah, and Johnson obliged, installing some of those sets for the Nets.

“That system was a great system for my style of play,” Williams said a week ago. “I’m a system player. I love coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there.”

Williams is having pretty much a terrible season, shootdas has confirmed turning down a bid from Tottenham for Bruno Fernandes.Indeed, Varandas says Spurs’ offer was the only serious one fielded for the midfielder.He revealed: “We had bids, lots of enquiries, but the only serious bid was €45m from Totting a career-low 39.8 percent from the field. As a team, the Nets ranked 11th in offensive efficiency, averaging 102.9 points per 100 possessions. They’re actually far worse on the defensive end, giving up 104.0 points per 100 (21st in the league).

But it’s the overall picture that likely got Johnson canned. The Nets were big offseason spenders shelling out money to Williams, , (via trade), and . With billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov talking Eastern Conference finals or bust, a .500 record as the team approached the new year wasn’t good enough.

It’s awkward to see a coach fired in December after being honored in November, but Johnson had the assignment to win and with the team slipping, the Nets wanted to act sooner rather than later to try and turn things around.


Podcast: Chicago Bulls offseason review, and the Rose mail-in


of the Tribune joins Matt Moore to talk about the Bulls’ offseason, whether the ten faces being ruled out until November. Nelson has successfully managed to force his way into the club’s first-team set-up thi the Club World Cup as being “sensationally organised”.The Reds take on Monterrey in their semi-final this week amid a hectic travelling schedule. And Klopp has now taken aim at the tournament being held at one stadium.”All the games are on one pitchs season having impressed in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim in 2018-19.But the Evening Standard report that he will now missam has mailed in 2012-2013, the decision not to match the offer for , and what ‘s role on the team will be. 

For more on tNtcham on their summer shopping list.The Sun says Saints chiefs have put the ex-Manchester City hopeful on their shortlist after making contact before the January window shut.Ntcham, 23, still has a long contract at Celtic but could be priced at a sehe Bulls, . You can . 

You . You , and you . Follow .


ls.ADL says they can be proud of the way they’ve p


Oklahoi could become the first coach of the club.Solari and David rivals.ADL says they can be proud of the way they’ve progressed.“Our objectives are always the same: achieving the maximum, in the League, Coppa Italia and Champions League. We can’t do more than that,” he told Corriere dello Sport.“We’re doing Beckham – the leader of the ownership group – know each other well from their years spent together at Real Madrid.Venezuelan journalist Carlos Suarez of DirecTV Sports is reporting that the ma City guard underwent surge-Emerick Aubameyang says Thierry Henry was the reason he picked the number 14 jersey at Arsenal.The Gabon international has certainly looked to continue Henry’s goalscoring legacy after notching 22 league goals in his first length season with the Guery Saturday to repair his torn meniscus. He will miss the remainder of the postseason, reports the team’s official site. The Thunder opted for the safe, long-term recovery route.


s contest against the Pacers. Irving, who had c-2


Cavaliers guard was able to get himself back on track during Tuesday’s contest against the Pacers. Irving, who had c-2 draw at Osasuna.Barça came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 thanks to goals from Ansu Fati and Arthur Melo but Roberto Torres’ late penalty, his second goal of the game, earned the hosts a point. “We leave feeling angry and p****d off,” he told onnected on just 12 of his last 51 field-goal attempts, finished with 29 points on 10 of 20axy winger Romain Alessandrini is being linked with a Premier League move.Alessandrini comes off contract at the Galaxy this month.The Daily Express says he’s attracted interest from Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Watford and West Ham United. shooting from the field in the 99-94 defeat. He went 2 of 6 from downtown and also added seven assists, three rebounds and one steal to his stat line, while logging 35 minutes of game action. Irving did turn the ball over eight times and will likely be held out of Wednesday’s tilt versus Degoalkeeper Mark Bosnich says Odion Ighalo could prove a successful wild card.The former Watford striker sealed a last-gasp Deadline Day loan move to United from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua after United failed with late attempts to signtroit as he has still not been cleared to play in any back-to-back sets.


Pelicans’ trade for Jrue Holiday goes official


It took awhile, but the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday in exchange for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick went official Friday. The Sixers also received Pierre Jackson, the 42nd pick in June’s draft from Baylor in the deal. From the Pelicans’ press release: 

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that they have acquired 2013 All Star Point Guard Jrue Holiday and Pierre Jackson, the 42nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, in exchange for the Pelicans first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, with whom they selected Kentucky F Nerlens Noel, as well as the Pelicans top five lottery protected first round selelskjaer and the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. Solskjaer played under Ferguson from 1996-2007 at Old Trafford and has often spoke of the influence his former boss has had on his own managerial career.”Since he came in it was like the boss hadBayern Munich want £20m for Jerome Boateng. The 30-year-old has said he would stay and fight for his place at the Allianz Arena.However, the club are keen to move on and have sounded out prospective suitors over a deal. They are hoping that a bidding war will ensure between Arsenal and Manchester United.Boateng previously played in the Premier League with Manchester City. walked baction in next year’s draft.

“Jrue is the ideal fit for our team having already established himself as an All-Star guard at the age of 23,” said General Manager Dell Demps. “His leadership abilities also fit the culture we are developing for our franchise and he will be an integral addition to the Pelicans family for many years to come.”

 “We are very pleased with the opportunity to add a high character player with talent and experience to our roster like Jrue,” said Head Coach Monty Williams. “We believe he will be an integral part of our program and help us continue in the positive direction we are headed as a team.”

Holiday, a six foot three inch 180 pound point guard, was the 17th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He holds career averages of 13.4 points, 5.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game in 298 games played in his four year career with the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2013, the 23 year old product of UCLA averaged 17.7 points and 8.0 assists per game en route to his first NBA All-Star Selection. Holiday was the only player in the NBA to average totals of 17.0+ points per game and 9.0+ assists per game and was the third youngest member of the 2013 NBA All-Star rosters.

Jackson, the 42nd overall pick in this year’s June 27th NBA Draft, comes to the Pelicans after leading the Big 12 Conference in points per game (19.8) and assists per game (7.1) in his senior season at Baylor University . Jackson played his final two years at Baylor after transferring from junior college at the College of Southern Idaho. The five foot ten inch, 180 pound guard led the Baylor Bears to an NIT title this last April. Pierre Jackson will participate in the 2013 NBA Summer League with the Pelicans in Las Vegas, NV beginning on July 12th.

We . The tr Roberto Firmino has dismissed Roy Keane’s blast after seeing Liverpool and Manchester United players for ‘hugging and kissing’ in the tunnel before Sunday’s game at Old Trafford.Firmino and his team-mate Fabinho were seen embracing United’s Fred anrade was delayed due to Holiday being on his honeymoon. players have real lives, and everything! 


The Inbounds: Kobe Bryant, a new kind of assassin


(Getty Images)

So the got off the schneid Sunday night, toppling a helpless Pistons team, 108-79. The Lakers lead by 21 after the first quarter and never looked back. So they are, in fact, not the worst team in the . The story remains fascinating — despite their tremendous abilities, the Lakers’ record is 1-3. The win against the Pistons will not quell questions about their start. It was, after all, the Pistons, who look very much worse than the team who recovered from a similarly terrible start last year to remain competitive down the stretch. This proves that the Lakers, when pushed to the brink, are not worse than Detroit. This was the breaking point. Had the Lakers lost to the Pistons at home for their fourth straight loss, it would have touched off absolute chaos. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, that type of thing. And this is not to discount the win. The Lakers were dominant, controlling, explosive. Even without , out up to four weeks with a hairline frature in his leg, the Lakers blew the doors off Detroit. was a beast inside. Early foul trouble did not stop him on his way to 28 points and seven rebounds. continued his early season efficiency and brilliance. The Lakers ran the floor, caused turnovers, converted at the other end. More than one person noted that this game seemed to go away from the Princeton offense more than any other. The Lakers were let out of the box, so to speak, and the results did, in fact, speak for themselves. But there’s maybe an even more positive sign that has erupted over the first four games of the new-look Lakers. has been brilliant. And I use that word a lot but, in this case, I mean it. He has been like Fisher with a chessboard, Einstein with a chalkboard, Da Vinci with canvas. He has been a master of his craft. Aonsistency.The Blues suffered a poor 2-0 loss to Southampton at home on Boxing Day, a few days after beating Spurs in North London.”It’s a clear statement that you need a form of consistency to come in the top four because it’s the Premier League – eny discussion of Bryant, on any level, about anything, sparks controversy. I can already hear certain fans screaming, “He’s always been brilliant!” And while you can make that argument should you not be particularly mindful of efficiency over the past two years, you will also hear the cries of, “Sure, he’s been great. Look at the talent around him!” So intead, for a moment, let’s detach ourselves from Bryant’s history. Let’s forget whatever we think of him as a player, as an ego, as a person, as a Laker, as a challenger to MJ’s throne, and let’s instead consider a hypothetical. Let’s pretend Bryant was just some superstar who switched teams. No one divisive, no one explosive, no one with a ridiculous nickname ripped off from “Kill Bill” just your average, run-of-the-mill All-Star. You would think this player has found the system that he has been looking for his entire life. The knock on Bryant has always been this: he isolated against two td with Manchester United.United sees him as an alternative to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should the Red Devils boss fail to improve results, says Le 10 Sport.The Old Trafford-based club gave Solskjaer a three-year contract just six months ago.Barcelona areo three defenders, and tries to go “Kobe mode” or “Mamba Mode” or “Hero Ball,” but often it’s simply “incredibly stupid shot mode.” He would get his team into trouble, and there would be conversations about him having to do what he could because of how bad the offense was or how that’s part of having the confidence of a champion or something else. In reality, it was just bad basketball. I’ve long held the same opinion of Bryant. In 2009 and to a degree in 2010, he played phenomenal basketball. The scoring was beautiful, his post work tremendous, but it was his passing and playmaking. He was using that incredible talent to always make the right play. The truth is Bryant’s on-court play seems to deteriorate with his confidence in teammates. It’s not that having bad teammates made him a worse player; having worse teammates enabled him to make the decisions, which led to him being a worse player. And just as we can’t consider four games a conclusive judgment on the Lakers’ season, neither can we use it to definitively say this is the Bryant we’re getting this year. But the results have been tremendous. In the midst of an offensive system no one seems to believe in benewed.Off contract in June, the defender’s season is over due to a pending knee operation.Celades said, “He will be operated on in the next few hours. It is true that we are open to making an addition (emergency signing) because we have this possibiut them, Bryant is having an incredible start. Not just in performance, but how he’s doing it. It would be one thing if Bryant were doing what he has always done while shooting 60 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point land and 95 percent from the line. But let this rattle around your head. According to Synergy Sports, in 2010-11, Bryant spent 30 percent of his possessions in isolation, shooting a solid 44 percent. In 2011-12, that number stayed right up there at 29 percent of his plays in isolation, shooting just 35 percent. Through four games in 2012-13, Bryant has spent just 20 percent of his time in isolation and, in those sets, is shooting 65 percent. It’s just 11-of-17, so there’s a long way to go. But the point is more this: Bryant is doing what people — even Lakers fans — have asked for years. He’s working to find more efficient ways to score. He’s cutting off-ball and shooting quickly when he has the space. He’s spotting up. He’s posting up, and he’s getting out in space. The attention paid to the other stars on the team is drawing open opportunities, and Bryant is playing that way. He’s not grinding the game down into a one-on-five game every time down the floor. It’s not about trusting teammates; it’s about trusting the total system. Maybe the system’s gotta go because the Lakers’ offense overall has been subpar (though the defense has been a bigger worry). But we’re seeing a more efficient, less-ball-stopping, more dynamic weapon in Bryant. And that’s only going to improve when Nash returns. Bryant’s chasing more than another ring this season. He’s chasing immortality with a team that is very much built for legend. But in the early part of this season, he’s not trying to do it his way, and that is bringing the best out of him. Which is the worst thing possible for the rest of the league as far as the Lakers are concerned.