The Los Angeles Lakers are 0-2 since Kobe Bryant returned to the lineup after falling 114-108 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. But on a more positive note, Bryant showed significant improvement in his second game back from an Achilles injury.
Bryant looked rusty and unsure of himself in his season debut on Sunday, scoring just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and turning the ball over eight times. The Lakers star admitted he felt "weird," and he gave himself very poor marks for his performance.
But against the Suns, Bryant scored an efficient 20 points on 11 shots, bolstered by making all eight of his free throw attempts. He turned the ball over just three times and also made his first dunk of the season:
Bryant gave himself a "B" after the game and also said he felt more comfortable after losing several pounds over the last few days, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. With Bryant getting his legs back under him, expect the Lakers to gain a little more cohesion in upcoming games.
Gay ready for Kings debut
Recently traded forward Rudy Gay has been the subject of plenty of scorn over the last few years for his inefficient ways on offense. Gay has now been dealt twice in the last two seasons, but that hasn't shaken his confidence.
"No, I'm just trying to find a new home, that's all," said Gay, who is expected to make his debut with the Kings tonight against the Utah Jazz at Sleep Train Arena. "I work too hard to downgrade myself or think any different of myself. I'm just here to make this team better, that's all. And that's what they want me to do. That's an easy job for me."
Gay is shooting just 38.8 percent on the season while taking nearly 19 shots per game. Although those numbers aren't good, Gay is still a clear upgrade over what the Kings had been running out at the small forward position. Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro knows the talent is there with Gay, it's just a matter of harnessing it and meshing it with the other young talent in place in Sacramento:
"You look at the man, you look at the body of work," D'Alessandro said. "This is a very, very good player, and we're really excited to have him here for that reason. This is part of the process. We're not there; it's not a quick a fix. We're saying let's bring in talent and let's see where it takes us."
At the very least, the duo of Gay and DeMarcus Cousins should provide plenty of intrigue for a Kings team that has gotten off to a poor start.
Aldridge not interested in Team USA?
LaMarcus Aldridge is having one of the best season's of his career, and the Portland Trail Blazers currently hold the top spot in the Western Conference. Aldridge would seem to be a good fit on Team USA Basketball's roster for the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain, but the big man hasn't expressed interest in playing, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
Aldridge had said earlier in the year that he would reach out to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo about joining the team, but that hasn't happened. The big man also said he would definitely express interest if Colangelo called him, however, the chairman is unlikely to solicit Aldridge for his services.
Aldridge has never really shown a commitment to USA Basketball, withdrawing from several opportunities to either play or scrimmage with the team. There are a host of other American big men jumping at the opportunity to play, so if Aldridge truly wants in, he'll have to make the effort and show his commitment.
Clippers sign Jackson
Stephen Jackson has officially signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, the team announced Tuesday. The two sides began serious negotiations over the weekend after the Clippers suffered yet another injury on the wing.
Jackson, 35, played most of last year with the San Antonio Spurs before getting released just before the end of the regular season. The veteran swingman had grown frustrated with his role in San Antonio and had asked to be traded.
Bulls 'strong frontrunners' to sign Augustin
Augustin was waived by the Toronto Raptors following the Rudy Gay trade, and the point guard is expected to clear waivers Wednesday afternoon.
Augustin has really struggled in his last two seasons, but he might actually be of some help to Chicago. With Derrick Rose out for the season due to a torn meniscus, the trio of Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague and Mike James has been nothing short of a disaster. Hinrich is shooting 33.6 percent overall and 27.7 percent from three, while Teague and James both have negative PERs.