Although Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and a bunch of Twitter users may object, the Los Angeles Lakers are not a title contender. They are not a threat and they aren’t going to make any noise this year, other than that “dun dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun” after a made basket. They still get some of those in Laker Nation!
Alonzo Gee, I promised to make this a Mavs-free piece but the most recent descent of the Lakers wasn’t caused by the Dallas Mavericks; however, after getting back on top of the basketball world in 2009 and 2010, the Lakers were swept clean by Corey Brewer, Pedrag Stojaković and the eventual champion Mavericks.
Phil Jackson retired, Brian Shaw wasn’t hired and Andrew Bynum exited 2011 shirtless after toppling Jose Juan “JJ” ‘numero once’ Barea and all of his nicknames. Not sure what it is about consecutive titles but the Lakers fell apart at the seams and have been in major flux since.
The well documented 2012-13 Lakers season was the formation of the “Dream Team.” Steve Nash and Dwight Howard were added to Kobe and Pau to counter the multi-star NBA trend. Without the magical Phoenix medical staff, Nash broke fast and Dwight Howard started wearing headbands. They fired turrible Mike Brown, 1 win and 4 losses in, and replaced him with turrible Mike D’Antoni and the rest is mystery; history + misery.
The biggest blow to the purple and gold foundation came in game 79 when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon. Despite total chaos surrounding the Lakers, the future Hall-of-Famer was putting up 27 points, 6 assists, nearly 6 rebounds, and over a steal per game; however, he was playing a hefty 38.6 minutes a game in season number 16.
Amidst the pandemonium, outspoken Mavericks owner (oops, I did it again), Mark Cuban, jokingly suggested the Lakers use their amnesty clause on their legendary talent, which would make all sorts of sense financially and to the team’s goal; although, just like trading Carmelo Anthony makes a lot of sense for the New York Knicks right now, it actually makes too much sense and will not happen.
Kobe’s injury coupled with Dwight Howard’s expected departure in free agency and Steve Nash still really, really struggling to stay on his feet, the Los Angeles Lakers current rotation consists of castoffs like Wesley Johnson and Shawne Williams alongside excessive mediocrity like Chris Kaman and Nick Young.
With all the negatives in ‘Laker Land,’ there are longer term positives that are expected to pay off given the attraction and history of the team. The 2014 NBA draft is expected to be absolutely loaded and the Lakers have their 2014 pick sandwiched between seasons where Phoenix has the pick from the Nash deal. Even with the pick providing a chance to snag a real good player, it’s the money that L.A. will have that rings loudest.
After this season, the only contracts on the books for Jerry Buss and company are Steve Nash and sub million contracts to Robert Sacre and Elias Harris, the latter of which can and likely will be terminated before the end of next June. Nick Young has a player option, but…this.
Obviously the attention will turn to Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Despite Gasol being treated like an average Joe during a large amount of his Laker tenure, the extremely skilled big man has expressed interest in returning to the Lakers. Then there’s Kobe Bryant.
Kobe is due over $30 million dollars this year, by far the most in the Association. But his 3-year, $84 million dollar veteran extension ends this season. Which brings up a crazy idea that is so crazy it just might Kobe (don’t you love when the title is in the topic?!).
Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” suggests that instead of seeking about $20 million per year in his final deal that Kobe will make a move that only happens in video games in the “edit” section…with guilt.
Cowherd proposed the following scenario for one of the greatest players ever: accept a league minimum salary, leaving the Lakers with more than the already expected financial surplus to surround Bryant with the pieces necessary to win another championship.
Michael Jordan has 6. Kobe Bryant has 5. Eddy Curry has one, and Charles Barkley doesn’t have any.
Kobe Bryant wants to tie and, if he can, pass (not literally) Michael Jordan to further cement his legacy. The ‘Black Mamba’ is entitled to a ton of money in an industry where Gerald Wallace is making over $10 million per season through 2016. But after seeing how the last couple of seasons transpired and father time ringing the doorbell but not yet knocking, perhaps Kobe makes the bold move that only someone as remarkably ambitious as him would do.
The league minimum is a ways away from $20 million but even if Kobe were to allow the Lakers to chop his expected deal in half or more, it would be a groundbreaking move when superstars elsewhere are holding out for a couple more million while not making as much progress to a championship.
As of summer 2013, Kobe Bryant’s net worth was $220 million dollars and counting. Dr. Evil even fell out of his chair. Of course it is against human nature to turn down money you are expected to earn but Kobe Bryant can certainly add a huge chapter and more to his legacy with a revolutionary move such as this.
If the Los Angeles Lakers don’t improve soon then the book on Kobe Bryant’s remarkable career will come short of expectations and leave us all wondering what more could have been written.
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