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Report: Kobe Bryant wishes the Lakers could hire Tom Thibodeau

May 1, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

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Mitch Kupchak said he wouldn’t consult Kobe Bryant on Mike D’Antoni, sending a clear message about Kobe’s status in the Lakers organization.

But you have to think Kobe’s reported lack of interest in playing for D’Antoni had something to do with with the coach wanting his 2015-16 team option picked up and resigning when it wasn’t. Handling a disgruntled star is never easy, and it’s much harder as a lame duck.

Kobe knows how to play this game. The Lakers won’t consult him? Fine. He’ll be heard other ways.

And here comes a report from a writer who has repeatedly broken Kobe stories and often features exclusive Kobe quotes in his articles.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Bryant will wish for Tom Thibodeau to free himself from Chicago. He loves Jeff Van Gundy, and shares management’s affinity for Euro legend Ettore Messina, who spent a season on Mike Brown’s staff.

Bryant has long admired Byron Scott, but there’s a different ex-Lakers guard who could go much further to regenerate the franchise’s culture and hold the insight into getting the most out of Bryant’s final two seasons: Derek Fisher.

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If Bryant longs for Thibodeau – whose reported rift with Bulls management has his name popping up for openings even though he’s under contract – the most-similar clearly available coach is Lionel Hollins. The former Grizzlies coach would foster an environment that rewards toughness and defense, two traits that also define Thibodeau’s system.

But Wojnarowski’s article centers on Fisher, and while Kobe is not quoted, I don’t think the Fisher focus is coincidence. Of the coaches who would satisfy Kobe, Fisher might be the most attainable. (Scott also seems likely to take the job if offered, but it’s unclear whether Kobe’s admiration extends to wanting to play for someone whose Cleveland teams struggled so much.)

Of course, Fisher must first finish his playoff run as the Thunder’s backup point guard. At 39, Fisher is still playing.

I forget, where are we on players moving directly to coaching? Did Jason Kidd prove it can’t work, or has he proven it can? Maybe we shouldn’t make a rule on a single example, especially one with mixed results.

Fisher is bright. There’s a reason he’s lasted 18 years in the NBA despite never scoring better than 13.3 points per game (something only Rick Mahorn and Tree Rollins have also done), and many believe he has the disposition to coach.

But it was hard for Kidd to go from playing against Brooklyn’s current players to coaching them. I think it would be even harder for Fisher to go from playing with Kobe to coaching him. The relationship just changes too much – even if Kobe and Fisher go into it with the best of intentions

There’s a bigger issue, though: Why hire a coach to get the most out of Kobe? He’s 35 and missed 76 games this season with two devastating injuries. If the Lakers want to get the most out of him, hire a good doctor.

It’s more important the Lakers hire a coach who can develop their 2014 lottery pick and attract a big-name free agent in 2015. If that’s the same person who relates best to Kobe, great. But the Lakers shouldn’t elevate Kobe’s agenda over bigger priorities.

  1. cantonb0und13 - May 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    On the other hand, Kevin Durant is no longer a man. He’s a decoy. Arguably the most overrated player in the NBA. He should be able to beat the Grizzlies after his pathetic performance last postseason. I mean you would think the “MVP” would play with fire, instead he chokes against the Grizzlies… Again. I expected more out of you Durant. I will no longer support you until you prove me wrong. I will be watching tonight. Do something productive other than being: King Decoy. Which should be you’re new nickname at this moment.

    • money2long - May 1, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      pbt can you guys check the IP address of this fake account to see if you can match it up with a regular poster ?
      i noticed he just spews really crazy messages.

  2. 1harrypairatesties - May 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Too bad for you Kobe. We got him in Chicago & you have one foot in the retirement door. Tom will never be your coach. Daaaaaaa Bulls!

    • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Yeah, I’m sure he’s happy there getting booted out the playoffs in the 1st rd every season. Da Bulls haven’t won da title since da 90’s.

      • lj312chicago - May 1, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        the 90’s…you mean when we won 6 in 8 years and had a 72-10 season…arguably the best dynasty in NBA history…..KEYWORD ARGUABLY YOU STUPID INTERNET TROLLS

      • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        You do realize this is now 2014, MJ is in Charlotte and the best player you’ve had since MJ hasn’t played in two seasons, right? No disrespect to Rose, I love the kid.

      • billtetley53 - May 1, 2014 at 11:48 AM

        LJ, dont bother with kb2408, hes a kobe nuthugger, probably the most preeminent one oustide of asimonetti. He is a know nothing blowhard, ridicule him, its what hes he for.

        Gonna have to disagree on the best dynasty. 8 in a row and 11 out of 13. That title belongs to the Boston Celtics.

      • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        @billbitely53…we’re not talking ancient history. You’re the only dude on here that was alive during the Celtics glory years.

      • au1978 - May 1, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        I usually have to thumbs down you, but DAT was funny!

      • billtetley53 - May 1, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        Ancient history doesnt matter? Oh, thats right, yiu know nothing about the history of the game. Remember when you said that Jerry West wasnt a good defensive player?

        You have to be the biggest doofus on planet earth. Please walk out into traffic. Hopefully you have never reproduced. If you have, your kid must be a real mensa member with an idiot for a father like you.
        Who am I kidding, youve never sen a grown woman naked except on the internet.

  3. McFaddensPulledHammy - May 1, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    I live in Chicago and if Kobe likes Phil Jackson’s style, Tibs is the exact opposite. The reason the Bulls never get out of the East is because they are exhausted come playoff time. There are no unimportant games and he believes each minute of each game is important. Instead of resting starters on the 4th game in 5 nights against Cleveland in January, he’ll play them 44 minutes in order to get the win.

    Tibs in LakerLand is a recipe for disaster and Kobe will want him gone by Christmas.

    • redbaronx - May 1, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      @McFaddensPulledHammy – Tibs knows more BBall than either you, I or anyone else will posting on PBT in several life times. If Tibbs plays his guys to exhaustion, it’s because of the lack of talent outside the starting 5. And coaches just like players grow. He might hear that criticism enough to adapt.

      Tibbs is one of the top 5 coaches in the NBA right now, and I wouldn’t argue if someone were to say the best. Just because Jackson is a different type of coach, that doesn’t mean that Kobe is married to Phil Jackson’s style. Kobe is a detail oriented fanatic and it’s easy to see how he would appreciate Tib Style. Kobe doesn’t mind working to exhaustion, though that is not always the best thing for him health wise.

      I see this as a possible good pairing if the Bulls let him go. The question will be what type of guys Kupchak puts around Kobe in that kind of scenario. They’ll have to be gym rats, and that’s something Kobe would love. No Kwame Browns….

  4. gbart22 - May 1, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    He’s a player he should just shut up and play the game they are paying him max millions to play.

  5. phillyguyindc - May 1, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Derek Fisher?! now this is just getting ridiculous …it doesn’t matter who the coach is Kobe is going to do whatever he wants anyway.

  6. bucrightoff - May 1, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Thibodeau will not tolerate Kobe’s defensive lapses and constant gambling and roaming on defense. He doesn’t mess around, he would send Kobe to the bench without hesitation. Doubt it happens.

    • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      Dude, unlike you, Tibbs knows a thing or two about basketball. I think he would understand that Kobe is in the twilight of his career and can’t play D like he could when he was younger. Tibbs is smart enough to adjust to what Kobe could bring. I doubt if it happens but I bet you he would jump at the chance to coach Kobe in his last two years and in L.A.

      • lj312chicago - May 1, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        as a Bulls fan…remember Bulls just finished 1st in defense…this whole Melo can’t play D he will screw up our system…..and this little comment above about how “thibs will not tolerate Kobe’s defensive lapses”………Here is a short list of names for you from the Thibs system that have flourished dispite being called defensive liabilities….

        Dj Augustine
        CJ Watson
        John Lucas the 3rd
        Nate Robinson…

        are you getting the point? with all those defensive liabilities…Thibs “system” still works…..the keywords here people are THIBS SYSTEM

      • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        Good stuff…Ij312…Thibs is an awesome coach. The Bulls would be foolish to let him leave.

  7. spursareold - May 1, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    LA just needs a caretaker coach to ride out two mediocre “Thank you Kobe” seasons. They can make their big hire in 2016.

    • redbaronx - May 1, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      @spursareold – I agree with you with an asterisk. If they bring in a guy like Tibbs (…or Jerry Sloan…), Kupchak can build a roster of gym guys that will work hard and the Lakers will be competitive again with the right moves. I’m not a Lakers fan (Wizards), but having a good Lakers team in the NBA is a good thing, and if Tibbs were coaching I can see Kobe’s last two years being a little more meaningful than a goodbye tour.

      If you get a coach like Tibbs and Kupchak can pick up FA’s that would fit that gym rat mold (like Trevor Ariza who the Wizards might not be able to keep…), get lucky in the draft and pick up a few guys like the Wizards got Drew Gooden off the coach…then the Lakers just might have a chance at being a force to be reckoned with in the West. Stranger things have happened! Like when the Lakers got good pickups in 2007 after the roster mess of 2005/06.

  8. poundtherock - May 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Really looking forward to when Kobe retires so I don’t have to hear him anymore. Plus, I’d bet $1,000 that he misses 20+ games next season due to injury.

  9. RonKarate - May 1, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    The Lakers have a TON of cap space. They won’t hire a coach until free agency starts. They can lure a top fee agent by telling them ‘Who would like to be the coach?’

    • mcfleezy12 - May 1, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      eh…why go somewhere with no coach? no system, nothing?

    • spursareold - May 1, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Actually, they don’t.

  10. TheMorningStar - May 1, 2014 at 12:48 PM


  11. harshedmellow - May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    “There’s a bigger issue, though: Why hire a coach to get the most out of Kobe? He’s 35 and missed 76 games this season with two devastating injuries. If the Lakers want to get the most out of him, hire a good doctor.”


    • ranfan12 - May 1, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Buyout the suns medical staff lol

  12. sellahh - May 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Hey, Chicago fans been throwin some serious sh** at Thibs for not playing superstars like Jimmy Fredette. Why not swap coaches? Imagine DAT O chicago fans with D’Antoni at helm. I’ll take Thibs as a Laker fan.

  13. jucam1 - May 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Tibs is a defensive coach, Kobe doesn’t stoop down to the level of doing that sort of thing.

  14. sportsfan18 - May 1, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Mitch did NOT need t consult Kobe when he made that comment to the press because well BEFORE Mitch made that comment, Kobe had ALREADY stated that he did not want to play for D’Antoni this coming season.

    THAT is why he did not need to consult Kobe…

    The consultation was over as Kobe had already spoken.

  15. ProBasketballPundit - May 1, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    They can, genius. You know that other team that plays in the same stadium? They just traded for their coach. And guess what, Thibodeau isn’t wanted in Chicago anymore so that might just be a possibility.

    • chicitybulls - May 1, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      Thibs isn’t wanted in Chicago anymore? Where do you get your info?

  16. mackcarrington - May 1, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    I know exactly what Kobe wants. If not Thibs specifically, someone like him.
    He wants someone who won’t back down from him, and take his Sh**.
    Kobe wants someone who figuratively, if he punches him, will slap him back in return.

  17. fnc111 - May 1, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    Thibs will be the Lakers coach soon. Chicago can’t get any good FA’s. L.A. Can. It’s simple Lakers > Bulls. That’s coming from a Bulls fan.

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