With their season unceremoniously swept into the dustpan by the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers' summer officially began Tuesday upon conclusion of the team's exit interviews with the media. To say that a few nuggets of interesting info were dropped would be a bit of an understatement.
After a tumultuous season where it was constantly on the ropes, being dispatched so quickly in the first round almost felt like a sigh of relief for the team and the fanbase.
There's a general sense after such a disastrous season, all culminating in the moment that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon, that time off to get ready for next season is extremely desirable.
We've got to start out with perhaps the most important revelation of the exit interviews, and that's Kobe's television-watching habits since hurting his ankle:
Kobe just got into "Game of Thrones" while recovering from this injury. Gasol a huge fan, read the books. #winteriscoming— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 30, 2013
I'm certain that Gasol's infatuation with of the King in the North is just a knee-jerk reaction, but Kobe seems to be a Stannis Baratheon kind of guy, perhaps even more the Daenerys type.
That's something I'll wrestle with myself a little bit later.
Kobe's health was a small topic of discussion for the exit interviews, Bryant both dispelling the notion that he played too many minutes this season and then asserting that he would be back and ready to play on day one:
Kobe: "Do you think Mike really can keep me in or out of a game?"— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 30, 2013
Kobe confident he will be ready for season opener.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 30, 2013
As far as Gasol coming back is concerned, Pau addressed the fact that there is definitely some uncertainty, but continued to reiterate that he would rather stay in Los Angeles than start over somewhere else:
Pau Gasol on his uneasy Lakers future: "It's not ideal, but I accept it ... There's a possibility that I could be gone"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 30, 2013
Gasol: "It would be difficult if (Game 4) was my last game just because of the way I feel about the team, the city, my time here."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 30, 2013
Steve Nash, who conducted his interview on Monday, expressed his disbelief over the bad luck that the team had this season:
Nash on this season, "Craziest injury season I've ever seen. It's hard to find an identity. We all wanted more."— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 29, 2013
He was also right there with everyone else in the hope that Howard would return for the 2013-14 season, optimistic that the team will end up sticking together:
Nash: "I'm very hopeful that Dwight will be back. I think this is the place for him. I'm hopeful he sees it that way."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 29, 2013
Finally we got around to the good stuff, a conversation with Dwight Howard that will likely be dissected for weeks to come.
Dwight: "My back was in pain the whole year. I came back 5-6 months early and I did that for this team and this city."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2013
Dwight said he hopes he doesn't have to have surgery but will know this week.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2013
The first "shots fired" moment of the day came when Howard gave his thoughts on how well Mike D'Antoni did with the players at his disposal.
Howard was definitely more critical of D'Antoni than anybody else throughout the day, and his comments were much more focused on the negative aspects than those of his teammates:
RT @serenawinters "We have a lot of old guys so it was tough to do a lot of the things that Mike wanted us to do." - Dwight Howard— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2013
Dwight on D'Antoni: "We had to sell out to whatever he wanted, whether we liked it or not"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 30, 2013
Through most of those first two quotes, everything that Howard said was completely defensible, as it's what a lot of us were saying for most of the year.
However, once he uttered, "Whether we liked it or not," it was evident which camp Howard was in with regard to D'Antoni.
Howard got the question about his attitude as well, which he drew a lot of flak for all throughout the season:
Dwight: "If I want to smile and be a big kid, I'll smile and be a big kid. There's nothing wrong with that"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 30, 2013
In terms of where he plans on playing next season, Howard expectedly dodged the subject:
Dwight on his free-agent future: "I'm focused on me and making the best decision for me, and that's not going to be today."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 30, 2013
However, he did pretty much sum up his first-year experience in Los Angeles in a single, succinct quote:
Dwight on playing in LA "It's the best place to play when you're winning. When you're losing, it's not so good."— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) April 30, 2013
This was the transition between the end of a monumentally disappointing season and one of the most uncertain offseasons in Lakers history.
While there were definitely more questions posed than answered here, we've got a good starting point to derive what will happen in the next few months in Los Angeles.