HOUSTON — If you watched the All-Star game, you gained an appreciation for Kobe Bryant’s defensive determination.
If you stood 3 feet away from him and spoke to him afterward, as I did, you gained a clearer understanding of where he stands on the whole question of what the Lakers should do with Dwight Howard.
And if you read a little into his quotes, you get the feeling that Bryant wouldn’t be surprised in the least, or even bothered, if the Lakers decide to trade the big man before the deadline Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do. At this point, it doesn’t matter,” Bryant said after putting on a signature defensive performance against LeBron James in the West’s 143-138 victory over the East Sunday night in the 2013 NBA All-Star game.
“What matters to us is what we do on Wednesday, and go from there. That’s the most important thing, and that’s my message to the team. We can’t worry about the future, we can’t worry about the past. We have to focus on the present,” Bryant said.
Doesn’t matter? Hmmm.
You hear a quote like that, and it merits asking a follow-up question — so I put one out there.
Do you think it’s possible Howard might be dealt before the deadline?
“Honestly I really don’t know what the heck is going on with that. and I can’t afford to. It’s a fine line for a player like myself to get involved in that situation, because now you become distracted of what exactly you need to do as a leader with the team you have assembled,” Bryant said. “So instead of wasting my energy thinking about what they might do or what might happen, I have to focus on the pieces that we have and how to reach every single one of them individually to bring out the best in them. If I don’t obsess about that, we can’t get nowhere.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of keeping the big fella around, eh?
That’s the way I took it.
I’ve covered Bryant long enough to know when one should and shouldn’t read something into something Kobe says, and on this night — especially after the sour-puss act I saw from Dwight on Friday afternoon — I walked up to my laptop believing it may actually be more likely than not that Jim Buss decides the Dwight experiment has been a failure, and it is time to cut the Lakers’ losses.
Dwight wants to go to Brooklyn. It’s been that way for 2 years, and it ain’t any different now than it has been.
I can guarantee you the Nets are going to pick up the phone sometime between now and Thursday, call the Lakers and ask what they are planning to do. And I’d go so far as to say it’s a 50-50 proposition that Dwight is wearing black and white by next weekend.