Kobe Bryant has been shut down by the Los Angeles Lakers and won’t return to action during the 2013-14 NBA season. Due to an Achilles injury suffered last season and a knee injury after playing only six games post-return, Bryant will have missed 76 games this season when all is said and done.
While Bryant not returning makes what has been a miserable season for the Lakers even more depressing, the idea of Bryant having ample time to recover, get back into ideal condition in terms of his physical state, and come back next season in full form is certainly enticing. However, Bryant is definitely looking for some changes to come next season.
Obviously Kobe is expecting an influx of talent next season. Currently, only Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are the only three Lakers players on the books for next season, which opens up room for the team to operate in free agency. More than that, though, Kobe seems to be looking for a new head coach to guide this team.
According to a report from Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Bryant has “no interest” in current head coach Mike D’Antoni returning at the helm in Los Angeles next season. Deveney also points out a report from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that says that D’Antoni will also be out as coach after this season in the interest of trying to sign free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony.
D’Antoni has had success in this league, but it’s pretty clear after two seasons that it’s not going to work in L.A. You could try and make the argument that the front office could build a team to suit D’Antoni’s style this summer, but the cornerstone for this team is still Bryant. In his mid-30s, it’s hard to imagine Bryant having much desire to run-and-gun night after night offensively and not have an impact at all on the defensive end.
While there are sure to be some awkward moments as the Lakers finish out this tumultuous season because of rumors like this, getting D’Antoni out is the right move if that is, in fact, the plan. Not only is it what Kobe wants, but it’s a nice way for this team to start fresh as they bring in a new group to put on the floor.