Chapter 341: Team Conflict.
When the Lakers arrived in Huhai, they received a much grander welcome than the Rockets that came five hours earlier.
The Rockets, who lost Big Yao, recently placed at the second place in the Western Conference in the regular season last season with Harden at the helm, one of the Thunder’s big four. They only lost to the later Champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
But their future was hopeful.
Howard, their new addition to the team, was a superstar that could lead a team to the finals a few years ago.
Although he was only half as good as before due to injuries, half a Howard was still a very good player.
In addition, they had Harden that already established himself.
The 26 years old player had an unlimited future and was somewhat already a top 3 shooting guard in the league.
With those two superstars playing together, even if it wasn’t as good as Big Yao and Tracy McGrady, they still received a warm welcome from the fans in Huhai.
Big Yao personally came to welcome them and took them to the hotel as well as had a party with them.
For that reason, Big Yao missed the Lakers that came a few hours later and didn’t see Kobe and Iverson.
But it couldn’t be helped.
Big Yao was from the Rockets, he couldn’t abandon his mother’s team to go welcome the two Lakers’ superstars, right?
It didn’t matter as thousands of Lakers fans went to welcome that and it was like giving the Lakers the home team treatment.
“Kobe, are you trying to screw with me?” The general manager Kupchak was sweating while squeezing out a smile to greet the fans on one side while feeling like crying on the other side, “Such a big matter, what didn’t you talk to me about it sooner? And this Chen… Chen Huan is that impressive? He doesn’t even come to the US for the trial and think he already has the skills to play in the NBA and become your right hand man?”
The grand general manager of the Lakers only heard of it from Buss Junior right before he went on the plane.
Buss Junior said that Kobe wanted to sign a Chinese player who was a genius that even MJ appreciated.
He wanted Kupchak to check it out, watch him play the two pre-season games and sign him if he was good.
The team didn’t lack the money anyway and Kobe’s demand must be met even if he was aging.
If he wasn’t good, just give him a contract of 1 million and take him as trash that never sees the floors.
Kupchak almost cried.
Was he as the general manager being ignored?
Only telling him at the end who they wanted to sign and even having him to participate in their pre-season games… was this a joke?
The games would be broadcasted live and if he was trash, wouldn’t he take the blame?
Could they even say it was Kobe who was blind?
The blind one could only be him!
In order for him to not be roasted by people every day, he could only pester Kobe about it to know more about Chen Huan before he could make a decision.
“You’re about to see him, I’ll introduce him to you later.” Kobe was a little annoyed but he told this to Kupchak just before they got on the bus.
“Where?” Kupchack asked.
“Training center.” Kobe’s answers were always that simple.
Iverson at the front turned his head back and said, “Hey, Mike, don’t worry, he won’t let you down! He’s someone both Kobe and I vetoed, what do you have to worry about?”
Kupchak let out a sigh and decided to stop talking to those two guys for now.
The group of the players nearby also heard for the first time that a new teammate might join and they all had different expressions.
Especially Louis Williams and D’Angelo Russell.
They didn’t have to worry about anything at the beginning.
Last season’s best sixth man was Louis Williams and the Lakers in July decided to give him a 3 years 21 million contract that he signed.
D’Angelo Russell was even more expressive as he was the second in the draft and was only 19 years old. The Lakers gave him a four year 23.02 million contract when they drafted him and groomed him as Kobe’s successor.
The two of them were the main force when Kobe was out during the season.
The two originally were going to be the main helpers of Kobe and the newly joined Iverson so they worked very hard for the upcoming season but unexpectedly, the first pre-season game didn’t start yet and there was suddenly a Chinese player that came out from who knows where and he was a guard.
He could play both shooting guard and point guard.
(Kobe-AI-Chen Huan, the lack of size on that line up is too much, I remember Chen Huan was around 6ft, how the fuck is he going to play shooting guard?)
Those weren’t a problem, the problem was that Chinese player was recommended by Kobe and Iverson!
When they would start playing, would they have more minutes or would the Chinese player have more minutes?
On the NBA court, the minutes played determined the players’ status in the team and it also represented the size of their contracts in the future as well as glory so this was unacceptable.
But the two of them added up weren’t as good as either Kobe or Iverson so how could they voice out?
They could only hold on to their dissatisfaction and see how good that Chinese player was.
If the skills were not bad… tsk, what about skills? Could the athletics of Chinese people match theirs?
No matter how good his skills were, he’ll fly with just a hit!
Those Chinese players who came to the NBA a few years ago, didn’t all leave the NBA in a sorry state?
The general manager felt conflicted.
The players were curious and wary.
Coach Byron Scott felt a bit embarrassed.
He was the head coach and a famous NBA championship-level superstar but Kobe and Iverson didn’t give any respect at all. They didn’t ask for his opinion when getting a player, wasn’t that looking down on him?
But Byron Scott didn’t get angry.
Because his performance last season was too bad. The Lakers seemed to have lost their souls without Kobe and didn’t even make into the playoffs.
Without good results, what qualification did he have to be angry?
If it was Don Nelson, Popovich, Pat Riley or another championship level coach, even if he was Kobe, he would be scolded to the ground.
But Byron Scott swore in his mind that he would not give any face to that Chinese player if he wasn’t good enough.
Kobe, who returned from injury, and the newly added Iverson all shined in front of his eyes and made him feel like they were still in their peak.
If he used them well, it would be possible to get into the Western Conference Finals!
His job at the Lakers would stabilize as long as he could get those results.
For that objective, he couldn’t let some no name random player to get in, it would worsen the team’s morale!
It was like that.
Admits the Lakers’ nervousness, anxiety, curiosity, irritation etc…The Lakers went to clean themselves up in their hotel they booked before going to the training ground without any pause.