Daily Gossip, Friday 22/5/15

It was bound to be a huge feature at some point, but is Kobe Bryant thinking of hanging up his Kobes for good?

Could next season be his last?

Via ESPN:

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said star guard Kobe Bryant has told the GM that the 2015-16 season will be Bryant’s last with the Lakers.

“He has indicated to me that this is it,” Kupchak said Thursday in a radio appearance with SiriusXM NBA Radio. 

Bryant is scheduled to make a league-high $25 million in his final contract season — his 20th — with the Lakers. But there’s speculation that Bryant could play beyond next season, and Bryant said he hasn’t ruled out that possibility.

“I think first and foremost, he’s on the last year of a deal,” Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don’t think there will be.” 

Bryant will be 37 years old when next season begins, and his past three seasons have ended early because of injury. He played only 35 games last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. 

“A year from now, if there’s something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then,” Kupchak said of Bryant potentially playing beyond next season. “I talk to him from time to time … and he is recovering. He’s running. He’s getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he’s much closer to the end than to the beginning.”

SCHRODER: WE NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB ON LBJ 

Ahead of Game two later tonight, the Atlanta Hawks resident German, Dennis Schroder admits that there is one player that they need to watch for.

You don’t need two guesses to guess who though?

Via NBA PR:

Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder has said the Hawks need to do “a better job” defending LeBron James ahead of tonight’s crucial Eastern Conference Final clash against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Cavs stole home court advantage with a 97-89 victory in Game 1, with the Hawks needing every ounce of resolve to try and level the best-of-seven series and avoid going to Cleveland down 0-2. 

LeBron James led the Cavs with 31 points in Game 1 with JR Smith adding 28 points. Speaking on a Conference Call, the German native said: “LeBron James is a great player obviously. He has the ability to find his teammates on the weakside when he attacks the basket. That’s why the Cavs get a lot of good shooting opportunities. Then again, in Game 1 JR Smith scored at will from three-point range despite good defence. I think we as a team have to do a better job there. We just have to keep them away from the line. If we do this, we have a good chance to win.” 

The Hawks entered the NBA Playoffs with the best record in the Eastern Conference with 60 wins and 22 losses but some doubted how they would progress in the NBA Playoffs. Schroder said: “I think we showed the critics that we are able to play our kind of game in the Playoffs. Here we very much have a team mentality. If we keep on playing as we did in the regular season we can achieve a lot.” 

GALLINARI TO LEAD THE REBUILDING NUGGETS?

His recovery from knee surgery lasted nearly two years, but Danilo Gallinari is primed to be the centrepiece of the Denver Nuggets rebuilding period, which could be two or three seasons deep.

Via Denver Post:

After requiring nearly two years to recover from a knee surgery that Danilo Gallinari believes was initially botched, the 26-year-old forward finally regained his form late last season and appears now to be a centerpiece in the Nuggets’ rebuilding efforts, as is center Jusuf Nurkic, recently named one of the league’s 10 best rookies.

While Kroenke steadfastly refuses to offer specific names when talking about plans to aggressively retool the roster prior to opening night of the next NBA season, it’s realistic to expect point guard Ty Lawson or forward Kenneth Faried or both to be part of trade discussions prior to the June 25 draft.