As time goes by the decision to give Kobe Bryant two more years for a salary that makes it close to impossible for the Los Angeles Lakers to build an instant championship team seems more and more like a huge mistake, which isn’t stopping the ring-hungry player to try and push the team’s ownership to forget about sensible building and try to make sure he has a team he can win with next season.
Bryant is worried about the rift in ownership, so decided to talk a little bit with Jim Buss about the whole rift with his sister Jeanie, although there’s only one thing Bryant cares about, and the funny thing is he isn’t even trying to hide it.
They say the worst thing to be in the NBA is stuck in the middle. Teams like the Hawks of the last six years, that have been good enough to make the postseason each year but never get past the conference semifinals. It’s either being bad in order to be great in the future, or winning now. There’s no in between, and anyone stuck in that limbo with no hope of either moving upwards or downwards is stuck.
The Lakers aren’t used to building. It’s always about flash, stars and championships. If not winning them, than talking about them. But everyone sees that since the 2010 championship, this team is heading in the wrong direction. Kobe Bryant is declining, even though in his own mind he’s still a player to build a title team around, not to mention pay him like he’s the best player in the league. The Lakers missed out on Chris Paul because David Stern was thinking about league parity, and from there things went South.
The attempt at the Super Team in 2012 exploded in their face, and resulted in the “future” of the franchise leaving, not wanting to look back, hoping to erase every memory he had from his season in Los Angeles. They have a head coach no one appreciates, and a team that sometimes look it might not do so well in the D-League. Kobe Bryant doesn’t really care. He wanted his $24 million a season, even if it means that signing free agents is going to be difficult.
Maybe the Lakers can give up on going after LeBron James (if he opts out) or Carmelo Anthony (who suddenly is in love with New York again, now that Phil Jackson is there), and simply build a team with some good players with the cap space left to them after Bryant, Nash, Nick Young and two more minimum wage players are calculated in. Nash might retire, which is what the Lakers are hoping will happen, giving them more than $9 million of cap space.
But in any case, this isn’t a one season job. The Lakers can start building a team that might make the playoffs next season, but look a lot more serious, with the free agency that comes in 2015 and 2016, in the years after that.
But Kobe Bryant is having none of that. He wants a title now, even if it means the Lakers will be in the same miserable situation they are now very quickly. And even if their goal is to win a championship next season, all the creativity in the world isn’t going to turn them into contenders because Bryant isn’t taking less money. A Catch 22 some might say, for everyone involved.