Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday that next season will be Kobe Bryant’s last in Los Angeles – to which the sporting world responded, “Yeah? So?”
Bryant, 36, has played in just 41 games over the last two years due to injury. He is slated to make $25 million next season.
“The fact that this became a big story kind of had me scratching my head because we all knew he had one year left on his contract,” Los Angeles’ KNK afternoon sports anchor Randy Kerdoon said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “So the question then becomes kind of a what if. Okay, so Kobe says he’s only going to do it for one more year. Well, what if he has a really good year? What if he can continue to play really well? What if the Lakers get some really good guys to come in and suddenly Kobe’s interested again? And I know he’s always interested, but what if he has such a great year he starts thinking, ‘You know, maybe I could come back another year. Maybe I’d want to (make another) deal.’ So many things can happen between now and the end of next season. I’d be kind of looking at (Kupchak’s announcement) with a grain of salt.”
For Scott Ferrall, this is much ado about nothing. Bryant is no longer an elite player. He turns 37 in August. His career is almost over. The only thing the Lakers should be concerned about right now is who they’re taking with the second overall pick in this year’s draft.
“The word from Mitch Kupchak (is) he wants to go big,” Kerdoon said. “He’s always been a guy who likes to have a big guy. Think of the Lakers. You think of Shaquille O’Neal, you think Pau Gasol, you think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain going that far back. The Lakers have ruled and played best when they have a really big guy in the middle – and if you’re going to start getting really big guys, then you got to start looking at who’s available in the draft.”
And in free agency.
“There’s a lot of talk now that the Lakers may very well . . . offer (Marc Gasol) a free-agent deal,” Kerdoon said. “That, at this point, is speculation, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm to actually see that happen. And you talk about that No. 2 pick. You’re talking (Karl-Anthony) Towns, you’re talking (Jahlil) Okafor. Okafor has already said he’d love to be a Laker. So those are the two names everybody’s talking about – unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of the hat.”
Interestingly enough, this may be one year in which the top prospects may not want to be the No. 1 overall pick – not when the No. 1 pick involves playing in Minnesota and the No. 2 pick involves playing in Los Angeles.
“Either one the Lakers get, I think they would be thrilled to have,” Kerdoon said.