After weeks of speculation as to what the Los Angeles Lakers would do with Kobe Bryant for the rest of the season, it is now clear that the 35-year-old is going to be shut down for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. This is surely to anger both Bryant and many Lakers fans around the world, but is a move that will ultimately serve both positively as Los Angeles looks to rebuild.
When it comes to Bryant, the benefits of not pushing himself too hard is undeniable since that is what led to the current knee injury in the first place. At 35 years old there is no doubting that Bryant is not going to recover or be able to push through injuries in the way he has previously been able to, and his situation this year draws striking resemblance to that of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in 2013. This isn’t to say that Bryant can’t average 20-23 points per game again, but he certainly needs to learn his limits.
For the Lakers as a franchise, sitting Bryant and allowing him to get healthy for the upcoming season allows the organization to make a real tanking effort to take up a top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, although they would never admit to this. Currently the Lakers are tied for the fourth worst record in the league with the Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz. Having Bryant stay on the sidelines obviously makes it much more likely that the Lakers will play poorly enough to be the fourth worst team in the NBA which would give them 11.9, 12.6, 13.3, 9.9 and 35.1 percent odds at each of the top five picks respectively.
Gaining one of these top picks would give the Lakers a shot at gaining one of Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle or Dante Exum, who could all slot in finely alongside Bryant. Furthermore, they would provide the type of young and dynamic talent that could accompany the aging superstar to intrigue star free agents to take their talents to Los Angeles.
Amongst the free agents that would likely take a serious look this summer at the Lakers with Bryant and a star youngster on board are Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng or possibly even LeBron James. Heading into 2015 this list expands to possibly include the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and Eric Gordon. Each of these players would surely be enticed by the limelight of Los Angeles, in addition to the fact that the Lakers have enough cap room to offer two more max contracts and stay under the salary cap.
Currently there are surely a number of Lakers fans who can’t believe that their favorite team is actually thinking about tanking, but this is actually a good idea in the current circumstances. Doing so will allow the team to once again become a playoff team and NBA Title contender as soon as next spring and finally move on from this dreadful period.