Kobe spoke for the first time since signing his new 2-year, $48 million contract extension on Tuesday. He had two really interesting things to say – in the least.
First things first, he spoke on when he projects his season debut to take place.
Kobe said he feels strong but it will be “probably weeks” before his returns, adding he hasn’t felt he has his explosiveness back to where he wants it.
“I need more practices to measure it, test it, (to see if) some of the limitations I had in the first couple of practices come back and see if they are still there,” Bryant said. “If not, go from there.”
He would go on to talk about how he and the Lakers never had a “negotiation” session, and the only number(s) he saw was the one(s) he agreed to. Heck, if someone threw me $48 million, I would want to “negotiate” either.
Even though I’ve been on record saying that I would’ve like him to take less, I don’t blame him for not. Who would say no to money? Exactly.
Apart from that, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told the media that he believes the Lakers can still build around Kobe – despite his luxurious deal.
“I think we do, I think we do. The challenge is there. The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t make it any easier for anybody. It’s restrictive and challenging, but yes, I do believe we can.”
Personally, that’s not my problem with the Lakers. I believe that the Lakers, even with re-upping Kobe for that much money, will still have to ability to attract solid free agents. They won’t attract “Super” free agents, but they’ll get at least one solid player — maybe a couple, if they’re lucky.
My problem is that I don’t think you can win a championship with Kobe as the centerpiece of your franchise. I mean, we haven’t even seen how he’s going to rebound from this Achilles injury. Also, timing-wise I don’t really get the deal. But that’s not the issue I have. I digress.
Kobe is a great player, one of the greatest to ever play, but I don’t think he’s a “top” player anymore in this league. I just don’t. Call me a hater, but at this point in his career, I’d rather have LeBron James (obviously), Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George. I think. Heck, I’d probably take Jabari Parker, with the way he’s playing so far this season.
That’s just me. If you say that Kobe is going to attract another big name, I just don’t see it. Dwight Howard, who is much the new generation of the NBA, didn’t like playing with Kobe. I think that’s worth more than we take it for.
So, no, I don’t think the Lakers can continue to build a CHAMPIONSHIP team through free agency. However, they don’t need to. They’re looking like a lottery team with every passing week and, really, that’s the wildcard in this whole situation.
If somehow, the Lakers can get “lucky” enough to win the draft lottery — that’s it. They wouldn’t need to catch a big free agent fish. They would be able to build – with the cap they have left – around whomever they choose in the draft and around Kobe.
A couple of big “ifs” there, though.
First things first, let’s get Kobe back on the basketball court when it counts. After that, we’ll revisit the latter. Maybe Kobe comes back more like a Black Mamba and less like the endangered species I’m expecting him to come back as. We’ll just have to wait and see.
See the Black Mamba when he returns to action by purchasing your Lakers tickets now!