SH Blog: Barkley says it’s over for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, NBA reveals 2014-2015 schedule and extends All-Star break

James ParknbpanbaThe NBA revealed the official schedule of the 2014-2015 season on Wednesday, and that means we finally have some specific dates to look forward to and fun things to discuss about the upcoming year.

Our Chris Sheridan starts us off with the Top 10 games to watch out for.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports had his own version of ten games to watch for as well.

There really are so many intriguing dates to circle on the calendar with everything that has happened this offseason: LeBron James leaves Miami, Kevin Love traded (tentatively) to Cleveland, Chandler Parsons gets pissed at Daryl Morey and ends up in Dallas, Lance Stephenson bolts for Charlotte, etc.

If you want to know which games will be televised nationally, click here.

It’s not even just about what happened over the summer. Take the Los Angeles Lakers, for example. They were plenty busy picking up all kinds of pieces over the course of the summer, but ultimately, they’ll go as far as Kobe Bryant can take them. According to Charles Barkley, though, Bryant is just about done. Here is what the TNT analyst had to say:

“I love Kobe Bryant. He’s one of the 10 greatest players ever, but it’s over for him and the Lakers,” Barkley said.

Ouch.

No one really knows how Bryant will come back after missing so much time due to various injuries, but one thing’s pretty much for certain: he is all but ready to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list:  

As for how things will go for Bryant, it’s true that he has suffered some serious injuries since the 2012-2013 season, but all of them should be considered freak incidents – a torn Achilles tendon and a fractured knee – more than the age factor, as suggested by Barkley. If Bryant has been working hard towards returning strong – and that’s all he’s ever done throughout his career – it wouldn’t seem like the smartest thing to bet against that. In all likelihood, Barkley will have to take back what he has been saying about Bryant for some time now and maybe even apologize at some point during the season. That’s not to say that the Lakers will go far in the West, but to count out Bryant already seems highly premature at this point.

Speaking of the Lakers, Jeremy Lin is on the roster now, which means a visit from the Houston Rockets should be especially intriguing with the now-hated Dwight Howard coming back to Staples Center on opening night. Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report discusses that particular game in this piece:

Bryant has been known to hold a grudge, but his modus operandi is just as certainly not to wallow. He is all about going onto the next thing he can control, and right now that’s his body, mindset and whatever ways—individual and team—he can continue his pursuit of excellence.

If the Lakers are to have a successful season, that’s the theme that must pervade: forward progress.

Bryant will need to be healthy and strong enough to make his comeback a singular story of inspiration that transcends whether the guy he’s scoring over is evil Dwight or good Pau. Scott, Lin, Nash and Boozer will all have to be rowing meaningfully in that same boat toward individual redemption, and guys such as Randle, Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Ed Davis, Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Robert Sacre will all need to have a lot of look-what-I-can-do nights.

The Lakers will also face Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day. Coincidentally, Carlos Boozer is now with the Lakers, which means he will also look forward to facing his former team – the one that felt he was bad enough to use the amnesty provision on. Such juicy story lines!

Oh, and check out this terrific news from Woj:

There has been much discussion in recent years about not providing the players with enough rest and playing too many games on a weekly basis. The number of games played won’t change any time soon, but the players can finally get some much-needed additional rest during the All-Star break. Hopefully, this will help the players recover better for the second half of the season and in turn, see less injuries due to fatigue-related reasons.

OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE: 

  • Donald SterlingIt appears Donald Sterling has finally lost all control of the Los Angeles Clippers, from ESPN: “Donald Sterling lost what would appear to be his final move to block the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling’s appeal of Tuesday’s decision that closed the sale of the Clippers was denied Wednesday. The appeal, a writ of supersedeas and request for an immediate stay, was Sterling’s last-ditch maneuver to block the sale of the franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “The evidence before this court indicates the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steven Ballmer has closed,” the Court of Appeal said in its ruling. “Thus, there is nothing for this court to stay.” In addition, the court ruled that Donald Sterling “has failed to show that the balancing of the relative harms favors granting a temporary stay or supersedeas.”
  • The exit of Sterling means the return of sponsors for the Clippers, from TMZ Sports: “Steve Ballmer‘s purchase of the L.A. Clippers is already paying off — huge sponsor State Farm is jumping back into bed with the team now that the old Sterling regime is dead … TMZ Sports has learned. A rep for the insurance giant tells us it reinstated its deal with the Clippers almost immediately after the NBA made the official announcement yesterday that Ballmer’s $2 billion deal had been approved.”
  • Ballmer_LACSteve Ballmer sent out a letter to Clippers fans after his official purchase of the team, from Derick Green of Fansided: “To the Clippers Family - You may now have heard that this morning I officially became the owner of your Los Angeles Clippers. So as my first official communication, let me say thank you for continuing to support the Clipper organization. We are now looking forward to an exciting new season and I can’t wait to experience the opening tip off with you. Today marks the beginning of a new era in the life of our franchise. It also is the culmination of a dream that I have harbored for many years. To Coach Rivers, to our fantastic players, and most importantly to you, the dedicated fans that make this all possible, I pledge this: I will be hard core in my commitment to give the team the support it needs to be its best on and off the court. And I will do whatever is necessary to provide you, your family and friends with the best game-night experience in the NBA.”
  • CurryUSABBeckley Mason of Grantland proudly shares a story on how he managed to beat Stephen Curry in a shooting match: “Curry’s involvement came as a surprise. “There’s one more player entering the competition,” he laughed and then bounced into position behind the first rack. To make it fair, he said, with what approached sincerity, he would shoot with a shorter clock. Curry banged in all five of the first rack with the kind of effortlessness I had just put so much effort into affecting. My score, a measly 9 out of 25, was in instant jeopardy. I started telling him he was too close, he needed to shoot NBA 3s to make it really fair. He moved back a bit, and I kept barking like it was helping. Somehow, he missed an entire rack. Then bricked all but one of the next one. He got to the final corner rack needing to make two shots to tie me. He made one. His final attempt started right and never had a chance.”
  • Doc Rivers believes Rajon Rondo will have a strong comeback season, from Gary Washburn of Boston Globe: “Rondo and Rivers have maintained a close relationship and the two have talked often this summer. “Rondo’s going to be great this year,” Rivers said. “He’s going to be healthy. It’s the following year [after ACL surgery] that you become who you were. So I think Rondo will have a great year. And I think that will be great for the team. “I do talk to Rondo. I don’t get into [his contract] because that’s an uncomfortable area for me and him, probably. So we don’t even touch that. I just think that he’s in a good frame of mind; that’s all that counts.”
  • After unexpectedly losing his coaching job to Jason Kidd, Larry Drew will join the Cleveland Cavaliers staff, according to Washburn of Boston Globe: “Former #bucks coach Larry Drew has agreed to join David Blatt’s coaching staff with the #cavaliers, an NBA source told the Boston Globe.”
  • fisherWhat did Derek Fisher hand to Carmelo Anthony when the forward agreed to re-sign with the New York Knicks? How can Fisher change the way Anthony operates? Ian Begley of ESPN NY has the answers: “In fact, as soon as Anthony re-signed with the Knicks, Fisher handed Anthony a playbook with the team’s new triangle offense… “You always have to have someone who is strong enough to tell your major player — maybe a Carmelo, or Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan – ‘I’m not going here with the ball with you right now. We have other guys who have to be involved in the offense, we have a system we want to run.’ And Derek always had that ability to say that,” Jackson said in an interview last month on MSG Network. Jackson said that Fisher had the ability to tell his teammates, “‘You may want the ball now but I’m going to adjust this game to how it should be played and we have other guys who need to have touches and [the opponent's] defense is now cocked so they’re trying to stop our major scorers all the time.’”
  • Gerald HendersonGerald Henderson expressed disappointment in how he played last season and touched on what the acquisition of Lance Stephenson means, who plays the same position as him. Rick Bonnell of Charlotte Observer has the story: “I don’t feel I played my best. It was an up-and-down year,” said Henderson, who averaged 14 points, shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from 3-point range. “For how I played the last 30 to 40 games of the 2012-13 season, I just didn’t play as well.”… “I got this from Coach K: That you do as well as you can in the time you’re given. If you deserve more time, you’ll earn it,” Henderson said. “Guys want your spot. Competition is good. I’m going to play the same game and be as effective as I can, in whatever time I get.” Henderson said he met with Clifford on Tuesday to discuss these issues. “Me and coach Clifford are on the same wavelength,” he said… Henderson said the positive is he, Stephenson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are interchangeable enough that any two could play together.”
  • BledsoeEric Bledsoe appears to have no interest in talking to the Phoenix Suns organization at the moment, from Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: “The Suns are open to having further contract negotiations with Eric Bledsoe. It sounds like Bledsoe and his representation are keeping that door closed. Six weeks into free agency, Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver expressed how he still wants to sign Bledsoe to a long-term contract with the Suns. He also just wants to be able to talk to Bledsoe. “We value Eric as a player,” Sarver said. “I hope at some point we’ll be able to sit down and meet with those guys and make a deal.” A Comcast SportsNet Northwest report quoted a source who said the Suns’ relationship with Bledsoe “is on the express lane to being ruined.” ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard reported that the relationship is going in the “wrong direction.” “Maybe that’s just posturing and negotiating,” Sarver said of the reports. “We haven’t heard from the guy in four months, so I couldn’t tell you. I do know that when he played here, he felt good about the organization, his coaching staff and his teammates at the end of the season. We had the same feelings toward him.”
  • If you want to see one of the sweetest Shamgod moves ever by Tony Wroten, click here.

James Park is the chief blogger and deputy editor of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.

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