If there’s one person who isn’t concerned about the direction that the Los Angeles Lakers are headed, it’s Kobe Bryant.
Despite the Lakers handing over Bryant a hefty new deal just a couple of months ago, they should still be “fine” heading forward in attempting to surround Bryant with the substantial help that he needs in getting the Lakers into a new era. Should.
History would tell us that the Lakers won’t have a hard time in recruiting free agents to come play in LA, however, with the new state of the NBA, it could be different this time. The NBA is in a generation in which players must “team up” in order to win Championships. We’ve seen LeBron James do it, and he’s been pretty successful at it — others will follow. But will that lead to other “superstars” lining up to play alongside Bryant?
Kobe is a cool name that will forever have his place in history. The thing about that is history is gone. It’s the past. This is no longer Kobe’s generation. This is LeBron James’ generation. This is the Kevin Durant generation. Soon, it’ll also be Paul George’s.
But it’ll never be Kobe’s again. Not anymore.
And there lies the problem. Possibly.
Will the new generation team up to play along Kobe in LA? Will they want to do that? Some insiders have said that “not many” would like to play alongside a player such as Kobe. The report on Kobe is that he wants to be “the guy”. He believes he’s “the guy”. And for much of his career, he was “the guy”. Again, not anymore. Now, whether Kobe realizes that has yet to be seen, but until he does it’s going to be difficult.
Not just to attract free agents to LA, but to come to terms with himself and the state of the Lakers.
The bright side? Perhaps Kobe is taking the first step in coming to terms with all of that.
Bryant’s mood brightened when asked what the Lakers’ prospects for improving the roster this summer.
“I have all the confidence in the world that [management] can get the job done,” Bryant said. “I’m not concerned about it at all. They have the flexibility to do it and they have the room to be able to do it, and I’m sure they will make the right decisions from top to bottom.”
The Lakers currently have commitments to $35 million in salary, plus the guaranteed contract of their first-round pick. The projected salary cap for the 2014-15 season is $62 million.
“What we have coming up this offseason with the cap space and what we have ahead of ourselves seems to be right in the Lakers’ wheelhouse in terms of turning things around pretty quickly,” Bryant said. “When we’ve had summers like this, they have never really faltered. The have normally made really sound and excellent decisions that put us right back in contention. So I think this offseason is right in their wheelhouse.”
Bryant did admit there are doubts that enter his head about whether he can make a successful comeback from this injury.
“That’s part of the excitement of the challenge, that level of uncertainty,” Bryant said. ” ‘Is this it?’ sort of thing, ‘Are my best days behind me’ sort of thing.
“And to have those conversations with yourself and not be intimidated by that and … not succumbing to that is part of the challenge. It’s really the biggest challenge is saying, ‘Well, maybe this is the end. But then again, maybe it’s not.’ “
LA is going to attract free agents as they’ve always done. The problems is whether or not Kobe is going to scare them away. If he doesn’t, then, sure, the Lakers will be fine. If he does, they better hope that ping pong bounces their way.