Archive for the 'Exit Interviews' Category

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Jodie Meeks: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0549During his second year in Los Angeles, Jodie Meeks appeared in 77 games (70 starts) towards career highs in points (15.7), rebounds (2.5), assists (1.8), steals (1.4), field-goal percentage (46.3), three-point field goal percentage (40.1) and minutes (33.2). Most notably, his conversion rate around the rim (from less than five feet and in) increased from 50.4 percent in 2012-13 to 61.5 percent this season. Meeks also finished tied for 17th in the league in three-point field goals made (162).

- On the season:
“Despite all the losses, guys were professional and worked hard, and we tried to win every game. It’s never easy losing, but we approached every game to win. The coaching staff did a great job of preparing and kept preaching to us that we could always get better and we’re playing for more than just winning.”

- On what went into his improvement this year:
- I worked a lot on ballhandling and finishing at the rim. They were impressed with how I improved but (I want to take that next step).”

- On possibly returning to L.A.:
“I want to come back. We’ll have to see how the draft goes and free agency goes. I love playing here. It’s a packed house. I’ve been on teams where there’s like 2,000 people in the stands and that’s not fun.”

- On how he would sum up his two years here:
“It’s a little disappointing, especially the first year. I thought we’d at least go to the Western Conference Finals. This year we had a lot of injuries and I was able to expand my game. I showed what I could do. On a personal note, I feel like it was a good season. You don’t get any individual accolades. You have to win as a team.”

Pau Gasol: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0542Pau Gasol appeared and started in 60 games towards averages of 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks on 48.5 percent field goals. Gasol put together one of the best stretches of his career in January, scoring at least 20 points in 10 straight and recording 11 double-doubles. He missed the final eight games of the year due to vertigo and also battled injury (strained right groin) and illness (upper respiratory infection) earlier in the season.

- On if he’ll be back next season:
“Like I say every year, I don’t know. This year is a little different. I wasn’t sure if I’d be traded. This year, that possibility is out of the questions. It’s now because I’m in charge of my future and destiny and listen to the possibilities on the table. I look at this as an opportunity probably for the first and last time I’ll be a free agent where I can choose. It’s nothing like I’ve experienced before in the NBA.”

Gasol added: “I’m still going to listen to the Lakers and what they have to offer and what they’ll say about the team’s situation and position at the time. We know what it is today, but we don’t know what it’ll be on July 1.”

- On winning being a priority for him this late in his career and whether the Lakers can match what he’s seeking:
“If we have Kobe (Bryant) being healthy and Steve (Nash) being healthier, we’d have a strong core and we haven’t been able to utilize that the last two years.”

- On what was going through his mind during the last home game knowing if it could possibly his last time as a Laker:
“The last few years I kept on my mind it could be my last day here so I tried to enjoy it. It’s been on my mind quite often. I try not to think about it. Whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best. I’ve had an amazing career until this point and I want to try and prolong it at a high level.”

- On his time here in Los Angeles, if he doesn’t return:
“I’m thankful and I appreciate our fans support I received over the years, not when things were going great and we were winning but also when people recognize my efforts and commitment and loyalty to the team despite everything. That’s when you most appreciate the support. I think it’s been amazing for the most part. All things considered, it’s been extremely great for me. I am glad I got to be a part of this franchise and this city.”

- On why he thinks him and Kobe Bryant work so well together:
“We compliment each other well, personally and professionally. Since Day 1, it’s been a key part of success and how we function so well. I have great respect for him and what he brings to the table is very unique.”

Steve Nash: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0520For the second straight season, Steve Nash battled nerve root irritation problems stemming from a broken leg suffered during the 2012-13 campaign and appeared in just 15 games (10 starts) overall towards averages of 6.8 points and 5.7 assists on 38.3 percent field goals and 33.3 percent on three-pointers. Despite being sidelined most of the year, Nash passed Mark Jackson for third all-time in assists in NBA history in his final game of the 2013-14 season vs. Houston.

- On his exit meeting:
“Mitch (Kupchak) has been incredibly supportive of me. Obviously it’s been disappointing for all of us, and particularly, my situation has been a nightmare. The whole organization and Mitch has been incredibly supportive and classy. They appreciated how hard I worked to get back and hopefully I’ll be back next year.”

- On if there was a time where he doubted whether he could continue to play:
“There was a period where I couldn’t get healthy. I played six or seven games to begin the season and I didn’t play well at all. I wondered if that was it. I proved I can still play, but it’s a matter of whether I can sustain it or not.”

- On whether he knows he’ll be able to sustain his play consistently over the duration of an 82-game season:
“I’m going to try and figure that out this summer. In my mind, I think I’ll be in camp. I don’t take anything for granted these days. I want to put myself in a position where I can compete.” Nash noted he was on the court a lot last summer trying to get healthy, but couldn’t sprint for five months. It wasn’t until late August or September that he could do that.

- On why he still plays/what he is playing for:
“The games I played recently I had so much fun. I would’ve loved to play some more. I just wanted to play and wanted to take advantage of every chance I got.”

- On if he’s nervous about the future:
“We’ve hit the bottom. We had championship aspirations and nothing has gone right, individually and collectively, but not from a lack of want and trying. Sometimes you have to take your shots and keep fighting. You can’t always be on top. You can’t quit when you’re done and we’re in this situation. I’m not nervous. I would love to be on the court fighting and giving the team what I can during this transition.”

Nick Young: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0514Nick Young appeared in 64 games (nine starts) and averaged a team-high 17.9 points, plus 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 43.5 percent field goals and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. In the last 15 games of the season after returning from his knee injury on Mar. 21, he was particularly efficient from the floor, shooting 47.6 percent overall and 45.3 percent on three-pointers.

- On his exit meeting:
“Hopefully I could be back but we’ll see what (the Lakers’) plans are after the draft and settle in to what they want to do. I appreciate everything they said to me and being able to do what I do here, and for coach to let me play my game was big.”

- On whether he thinks he’ll be back next year:
“I feel at home here. I feel the support from the fans. I have to look out for myself and my family at the same time.” Young believes he can be a major piece for a team, especially after what he showed this season.

- On how he would describe this season:
“I haven’t seen this with guys getting injured pretty much every day.” He elaborated and pointed to the Cleveland game where the Lakers had to bring out Steve Nash on the bench because they only had four players available. L.A. missed a league-leading 319 games due to injury/illness.

- On Mike D’Antoni getting much of the blame for the team’s struggles this year:
“It’s a shame that he’s been getting beat up all year. It might have came out a little wrong. He’s a soldier. He dealt with the boos. Anytime you come in after Phil Jackson – over Phil Jackson – it’s going to be a tough situation. He handled it well.”

- On his relationship with Kobe Bryant:
“I think it can only get better. Just seeing his work ethic, I can learn from that.”
Should Young return, he believes he can help take some of the scoring load and defensive attention away from Kobe. He’d see himself in a sixth man role, similar to this season, while adjusting to Bryant when sharing the court.

Jordan Farmar: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0506During his second stint in Los Angeles, Jordan Farmar played 41 games (five starts) and averaged 10.1 points, 4.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds on 41.5 percent field goals overall. He finished the year ranked sixth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (43.8) despite missing 41 games from a strained groin and hamstring tears on two separate occasions.

- Opening statement:
“Given the circumstances we’re not playing and we’re here (doing exit interviews), I had to deal with some injuries, but overall I showed some growth and I’m excited about the possibility for the future.”

- On if he thinks he’ll return next year:
“I’m pretty confident. This is a business and we need to approach it as such. I love Los Angeles, I love this organization and the fans. This is definitely where my heart is at.”

- On what he’s learned since first playing in L.A. till now this season:
“I’m starting to really understand my game. That was the biggest thing overseas. We were really going to live or die how I performed. Being able to shoot the ball is a tremendous asset and to make shots is huge in this league. My last two seasons I’ve been up over 40 percent (on three-pointers).”

- On how he viewed this season:
“Just trying to put it behind us. Not try to think about it. I view it as an asterisk season. We didn’t have a fair shot at it.”

- On playing with Steve Nash:
“It was great. He was somebody I had looked up to and envied what he had been doing for so long. I would sit next to him on the plane and talk about basketball and life in general. I can’t say enough about how great he was as a teammate.”

- On the injuries this season:
“Sometimes things just happen. It doesn’t have to do with toughness or strength. Injuries are a part of this game. It’s unfortunate it had to be this way. Mike D’Antoni has coached this way for a long time and it hasn’t happened before.” Farmar noted it was unfair for people to blame the coaching staff and his style of play for the injuries.

- On if he saw the team bought in to what the coaching staff wanted to do:
“Not much but understandably so. The lineup was different every night. It’s tough to win games. Out here we were just playing and we were trying to figure it out. Once we figured it out, someone went down with an injury. Once you know your role and once you know what’s going to happen, you can just do your part.”

- On playing with Nick Young this season:
“It was awesome. I was happy to see how his season played out. To see Nick really blossom into we knew who he could be. To see him smiling and play basketball, that infectious nature rubbed off on the fans and in the locker room. When we were on the floor, we had a lot of fun together.”

Jordan Hill: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0496Jordan Hill appeared in 73 games (32 starts) towards career high averages of 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds on 54.9 percent field goals in 20.8 minutes. With Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman both sidelined the final eight games of the season, Hill upped his numbers to 16.6 points and 10.1 boards in April, and also posted five double-doubles.

- Opening statement:
“I’m looking forward to the offseason. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to continue to work hard and see what my next move is. I wouldn’t mind coming back here. I had a great time with my team and the (coaching) staff. There’s been a lot of ups and downs this season. I’m going to see how this summer pans out.”

- On if his career high in minutes affected him at all on the court:
“It gets tiring sometimes but I still have that adrenaline flowing where I feel invincible out there. I compete and play hard. A lot of people missed time due to injuries. It was definitely a tiring season.”

- On where he could see himself playing:
“I think I’m a good fit for any team – a great rebounder, an energy guy that can go out there and hard 24/7. I can also block shots. I feel I’m a great fit and I would love to play on any team that needs a guy like me.”

- On an ideal situation for him (position, minutes, etc.) in the NBA:
“I think I could be a good power forward, but I know I can play any position. You put me out there and I’ll get something done. Playing 25-27 minutes a game don’t sound so bad. I really showed I can produce when given those types of minutes.”

Chris Kaman: 2014 Exit Interview

IMG_0484During his first year in Los Angeles, Chris Kaman appeared in 39 games (13 starts) towards averages of 10.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks on 50.9 percent field goals in 18.9 minutes. He was sidelined the final eight contests due to a strained right calf and also missed time earlier in the year due to back issues.

- On if he has any relief that the season is over:
“I think guys were ready to be done, but I think everybody wanted to finish strong. The guys did a great job of finishing on a strong note.” Kaman did not rule out a possible return, depending on what the Lakers do in the offseason.

- On how he envisioned the season coming in and how it played out:
“I came here thinking it’d be two bigs – me and Pau (Gasol). I just don’t think it worked out how coach had anticipated either. My frustrations through the year of not having that (play out) and me coming off the bench and having little spurts (of playing time). I don’t think coach did it on purpose. I just don’t think two bigs fit in his style of offense. That’s the way he coaches. It just didn’t go the way I had hoped.” Kaman also noted that the team struggled to find a consistent three-point shooter throughout the year, a big part of Mike D’Antoni’s offense. D’Antoni also tried mixing and matching lineups with two bigs, but injuries played a big part in trying to establish some consistency/continuity.

- On if he mentored any younger players throughout the season:
“I really liked Robert (Sacre) and Ryan (Kelly). Those are guys that stand out to me as having futures in this league. They both work really hard and put their time in.” Kaman said Sacre really improved throughout the year and Kelly exceeded expectations his rookie year.

- On his calf injury:
“It’s feeling good. It’s just something that needs rest. I just chose to try and be healthy (and miss the final eight games) and not limp into the offseason.”

Mitch Kupchak: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_KupchakA summary of Mitch Kupchak’s 2012 Exit Interview:

- Kupchak opened by discussing Dwight Howard’s situation as a free agent, relaying that the team is “hopeful” and “optimistic” that he’ll re-sign with the Lakers. He said he won’t pressure Howard, who needs to wait until June to capitalize on increases in the potential contract he can receive anyways. With that known, Kupchak said this: “I know in my heart this is a place where I think he should be.”

- Kupchak continued when pressed on the Howard issue, explaining why he’s hopeful: “We have a great legacy, a great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mold. But I don’t want to get ahead of the game and take anything for granted. Obviously, I’m hopeful and optimistic. From what I understand, our players that came in today were very supportive of him returning … If you just look at the opportunity, which is to play for this franchise in this city, with what this franchise has meant to this city and its accomplishments, that’s probably the most any team can offer a player. Certainly, some players might not prefer to play on a stage like in Los Angeles, but I do know that this franchise will continue to be run as a model franchise. This is a very desirable place for players to play. What it comes down to is being comfortable selling the Los Angeles Lakers, and that’s where my confidence lies the most.”

- On the status of Pau Gasol, who enters the last season of his contract, as it relates to a potential trade: “When you lose, everything is in play. This is the third year in a row that you could argue we didn’t live up to or play up to expectations. Everybody is in play, whether it’s Pau or anybody else to look for ways to improve the team. By and large, the organization has always looked to put the best product on the court, and that will continue to be how we’ll move going forward. Looking for the best players that give us what we think is the best chance to win.”

- On being comfortable with Howard as a franchise cornerstone: “Nobody can completely carry a franchise by himself. In this day and age, with the parity around the league, and the way the league, the owners and players have set up the new collective bargaining agreement, every team is going to have good players. There’s not one player that can carry a team. We’re very confident that we can build around Dwight Howard.”

- Kupchak said the season outcome – both from the organization and D’Antoni’s perspective – was obviously not what they envisioned, but he was impressed that D’Antoni was able to turn things around from the low point at Memphis in January when the team was 17-25: “To Mike’s credit, he made adjustments. Once we started getting players back and once he started to see what our real strengths were, he was flexible and made adjustments, and that’s when we started to win games and gather momentum.”

- On feeling pride about the late-season play: “Considering our payroll and what our expectations were on October 1 … at the end of the season, quite frankly, I was proud of this group. To come in at 45-37 – and believe me that’s hard for me to say – but their accomplishments the last third-plus of the season were significant. They really almost had to win at a high level on a consistent basis.”

- On what the Lakers will run next season under Mike D’Antoni: “It’s going to depend on the talent we have. The trend in the NBA, and the way you’re seeing college players and NBA players play, it’s very different to what it was 20 to 30 years ago. That’s probably not going to change. It’s an open game, a lot of pick and rolls, perimeter shooting. The game has really gravitated to the way Mike coaches, but you have to coach to a great degree to the players you have on the team.”

- Kupchak was then asked if the Lakers planned on using the amnesty clause: “Can I refer that to Mark Cuban? He’s our amnesty expert,” talking about the Mavs owner’s comments that L.A. might amnesty Kobe Bryant (resulting immediately in Kobe going off in Dallas, then tweeting ‘Amnesty THAT!). Kupchak then said the amnesty provision wasn’t something that he’d discuss right now, but it’s obviously something the team will consider for the players that are eligible.

- Kupchak understands the “passion” of the Lakers fan base, but acknowledged that he felt bad for D’Antoni, who’s taken the brunt of the reaction from the team’s losing. But D’Antoni knew what he was getting into following Phil Jackson, and hasn’t been surprised by criticism. Kupchak should be given some credit here in knowing how to evaluate coaches, and he’s been supportive of D’Antoni, so that should tell us as much as observations from watching an injured team play.

- On a lighter note, Kupchak quipped that he liked Metta World Peace’s Cookie Monster shirt in his exit interview, though he naturally had no clue about his status for next season (MWP has a player option on his contract).

- On Dwight Howard being criticized unfairly in his mind, and thus standing up for him in February during the All-Star break, which Howard responded well to: “I think it helped that people recognized what he was going through. Once again, the expectations leading into the season were just so high and so off the charts that any kind of sub performance would result in negative feedback, and that’s what took place. When you’re not performing to the level of expectations, people look for – and rightfully so – reasons why, and for some reason, he seemed to get most of the criticism, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s here on a one-year deal, and for business reasons, he has to wait till this summer, but nobody understands that … I don’t think people understand it’s been about a year since he had surgery. Here’s a guy that had surgery last April and here it is a full NBA season later, and he played a full slate of games. I asked everybody here to look back at his March performance (17.9 points, 15.2 rebounds), and understandably, people aren’t going to say: ‘He’s not playing as well as he could because he had back surgery.’ When you’re on the court in this league, it means you’re ready to play. I feel as if he’s not been given his due credit and he’s been under appreciated.”

- On trading for Howard knowing he could possibly sit out nearly half the year: “I didn’t think we’d see him till January or February. When he showed up at the first day of training camp, I was shocked.”

- On D’Antoni, where much of the criticism went late in the season: “It was an adjustment process for Mike and getting familiar with our players. Mike was flexible and he listened to the players. Maybe too flexible at times, but he certainly, as a credit to him, worked with the veterans and they figured it out.”

- On Steve Nash’s year: “I was disappointed for him. I’ve never seen a player struggle and be as involved with the rehabbing of an injury and to be as frustrated as he was. I think everybody knows what he went through prior to Game 4 here in Los Angeles. Completely frustrating year for Steve. He’s going to dedicate the summer to get well, and he feels that he’ll be 100 percent in the fall.”

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Mike D’Antoni: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_DAntoniA summary of Mitch D’Antoni’s 2013 Exit Interview:

- On the season: “It was a bit of a roller coaster, obviously. A lot of disappointment at the end. Due to a lot of circumstances, we started off slow and got us in a hole. The last 40 games, we played well. Disappointed we couldn’t do anything in the playoffs – a lot of it due to injuries. We had ourselves set up to make a run, but we didn’t do it. Guys hung in there and battled back, and played April really well. There were some good things moving forward, and hopefully we can build off that.”

- D’Antoni was brought in to be himself as he’d done in the past, and didn’t have Steve Nash or Steve Blake when he took over the team. He said he wanted to wait and see how things would go once he got his point guards back, but eventually, he figured out how things would work, and the team played well down the stretch. Clearly, he was frustrated by having his top four guards out in the playoffs, but that was a microcosm of how the season went.

- With that said, D’Antoni was pleased with how the players competed through the end: “The thing that came out of it was the players hung in there, they wanted to get it done for Los Angeles, for themselves, for the organization and there was no panic in our room, and because of that, they let you work through the problems. I thought we worked through them and that’s a great thing for the players to take out of this season.”

- On the importance of having a full offseason and training camp to implement his system: “I think it highly impacts it. I’m looking forward to training camp. One of the biggest improvements we can get is in September, when you work individually with players on their strengths, get them tuned into what we do and then try to put the pieces together in October. I’m excited already – that’s what I like to do, and I (can’t wait).”

- D’Antoni mentioned in Memphis back in January that the team was basically an All-Star team, with four guys in particular used to being “Alpha Dogs.” The team was 17-25 at that time, but finally figured things out at that point towards a collective goal, and rallied to turn the season around and get into the playoffs. “There has to be a pecking order, and it took awhile to get used to it. I don’t think they resisted it – it just took awhile. I knew it was going to be hard .. I think it was a process and everything went into it. A lot of the early losing, I thought, was because we weren’t in great shape. That feeds into: ‘What’s my role?’ We had to get through it and you go back to the players. They did not give up. They could have. A lot of teams would have, and they didn’t do it. They fought back.”

- On how he’ll deal with Kobe next season, coming off a major injury, and if he works next to Steve Nash: “I think it was Wilt Chamberlain that said ‘You don’t handle players, you work with them.’ We’ll sit down and talk, but that at the end of the day, we’ll go on the floor and do what we need to win.” Basically, they’ll figure it out together. Said he thinks Kobe and Nash will be more comfortable playing off each other, that they eventually figured things out as the season went on, though it was rare that they were both healthy.

- In Bryant’s exit interview, he alluded to the team being a championship-caliber squad should everybody return and stay healthy. D’Antoni had this to say regarding his comments: “I think championship should be an expectation. Realistically we have enough talent here that there will be enough to where our goal is a championship.”

Kobe Bryant: 2013 Exit Interview

13exits_KobeKobe Bryant put together one of his better statistical all-around years in his 17th season, averaging 27.3 points (third in the NBA), 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds on 46.3 percent shooting. He appeared in 78 games, missing two because of a sprained ankle and the final two of the regular season, plus the playoffs, after tearing his Achilles tendon against Golden State on April 12.

He underwent surgery the following day, the expected timetable recovery being six to nine months. The plan, according to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, is for Bryant to be ready by the beginning of next season.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On why he’s so confident he can be healthy and fully recovered from his Achilles injury in time for the beginning of next season: “The staff we have here, the technology we have available and the understanding of this injury.” Bryant was recommended to have surgery the next day to eliminate the possibility of scar tissue developing and for less swelling. “For me, I’m willing to work and be patient. Those things together and I’m confident I can be ready for next season.” It’s definitely Kobe’s plan to be ready for the start of next season, but he acknowledged that he’ll simply have to see how rehabilitation goes.

- On how he’s feeling right now: “I’m moving a lot faster than I was. It’s a sneaky injury in the sense I don’t feel any pain, no stiffness or any of that. It’s one of those injuries where you keep it in the front of your mind at all times.”

- On if he can look at this season and take any positives away, despite all the adversity the club faced: “If we can gain something positive from this season, it’s (getting) most of the guys back. When you go from a year like this – five games out of the playoffs and then making the No. 7 seed – it does something for the group. It builds character. To allow that to dissipate and do that again with another group, it’s a headache.” Bryant believes the team as currently constructed, providing everybody is healthy next season, can win a championship. He stated the team understood how tough it would be to gain an understanding for one another, but injuries wouldn’t allow for their core group to be on the floor together. “We understood, but we didn’t have a chance to develop it because of injury after injury after injury. It was crazy. It was a constant process for us, but we finally figured it out. It’s great to bring the group back because we know what to do, and we know how lethal we can be.”

- Bryant recognizes that the team needs to add length and speed. “Some athleticism that can offset some of the deficiencies we have. If we can figure out a way to bring some of that length and athleticism, things will be (good).”

- On all the support from the fans during this time, what it means personally to him: “It drives me. It gives me more fuel and more focus to have that support. They believe in me. I take that and I wear that as a badge of honor not to disappoint them.”

- On how long he will continue to play in the league: “I don’t know. The Achilles (injury) kind of threw me a curveball, so I have to think about this.”

- On how he feels about Pau Gasol and whether or not Gasol will be a Laker next season: “I was pretty clear when I met with Mitch (Kupchak). I want him here. He gives us the best chance to win titles. You bring Dwight (Howard) back, then we’re off and running. You saw how well they played together (at the end of the season). That puzzle finally got solved.” Bryant acknowledged that coach Mike D’Antoni made a lot of adjustments during the season to better utilize Gasol, placing him near the elbow and in the post to make plays for his teammates.

- On playing with Steve Nash this year and what, if anything, he learned from him: “It was great to see him work every day, to go through his progressions, how he thinks the game from behind the scenes. (I thought), ‘Oh damn, if I knew that, maybe we could have beaten (Phoenix in the playoffs).’ But you get a chance to see his greatness because he’s extremely intelligent. His work ethic is unbelievable.” For Bryant to praise someone ELSE’S work ethic is definitely something to take seriously. They’re two peas in a pod along those lines.

- On Dwight Howard’s injury situation last year and the current circumstances he is in now trying to recover from surgery: “He went through a situation with back surgery where he was all by himself. He sees that and he doesn’t want me to experience the same thing he experienced. Our bond grew a lot.” Bryant appreciated that Howard visited him at his Orange County home after surgery: “It shows through adversity your bond can become stronger. The support for each other really shined through. That’s why I would love for this group to come back and get another crack at it.”

- With Howard set to be a free agent, Bryant stated he “hopes” the big man returns to L.A next season: “It’s just a matter of what he feels in his heart what and he wants to do. He’s reached a crossroads at his career and I think L.A. is the perfect spot for him to assert himself and have his career take off.” With Howard trying to play his way back into game shape after offseason back surgery, Bryant stated his play in the second half of the year was “impressive.”

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