This and that from the NBA:
» As you watch Kobe Bryant in the playoffs, making the open-and-shut case that he is the best player in the game, it’s easy to forget that back in October, all bets were off when it came to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant had criticized general manager Mitch Kupchak, verbally undressed center Andrew Bynum in public and wasn’t backing off his own trade demand. Conventional wisdom suggested Bryant was poised to go into full sabotage mode.
Now, Kupchak is considered a genius for pulling off the Pau Gasol deal, Bynum (although injured) clearly emerged as a potential big-time talent and Bryant, like Michael Jordan before him, is mastering the art of incorporating teammates.
If you hate the Lakers, turn away. They’re going to be very good for a long time.
June 26 draft. Lopez, a defensive-minded 7-footer, is seen to be a less-skilled version of his twin brother, Brook, who figures to go before No. 14.
» We’ve made it clear that we have lost some love for Kevin Garnett, whose on-court histrionics have grown old. That said, let there be no doubt that Garnett is having the best playoff run of his career and has been more impressive in the past six weeks than at any time in the past.
Garnett’s play this season has earned him more respect than his Western Conference finals run with Minnesota.
» Boston</a>’s Ray Allen might have a sweeter stroke and a better reputation, but I’ll take Detroit’s Rip Hamilton over him any day of the week. Competitiveness, toughness and the ability to make big shots gives Hamilton the clear edge in that matchup.
» Because I can’t get reprimanded for tampering, you know who would look good in a Warriors uniform? Leon Powe.
» The good news regarding the Warriors and Monta Ellis is that he’s a restricted free agent, meaning any offer can be matched. The bad news is a team such as the Memphis Grizzlies could offer Ellis a contract in excess of $10 million annually.
That would leave the Warriors with two bad choices: Overpay for Ellis or let him walk for nothing. A sign-and-trade? Not likely.
» Pistons rookie Rodney Stuckey, a virtual unknown out of Eastern Washington, has some Baron Davis in him. Stuckey has size (6-foot-5) like Davis, is strong and can finish around the rim like Davis and is erratic with his jumper likeDavis.
Any way you slice it, a nice find by Joe Dumars, Detroit’s president of basketball operations.