The news that everyone knew was coming has finally been made official. Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will not play the rest of the season for the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers well out of contention for a playoff spot and bound for the lottery, it only makes sense to sit these veterans. The Lakers will likely continue to struggle and end up with a decent pick in a deep draft. The question now becomes, what will be the plan for the Lakers after the draft?
Bryant will earn almost $24 million next year, effectively limiting the chances of signing enough talent to compete for a championship. He has been adamant about challenging management in recent days and has made it clear that he wants to win. However, the Lakers would need him to return close to pre-injury form to even have the slightest chance of being a contender, especially without the money to attract another superstar.
Nash is set for almost $10 million next season, a hefty contract for a player over 40 who has struggled with injuries the past two years. Nash has indicated that he will not retire as he wants the money owed to him, and to be honest, who can blame him. That leaves the Lakers with the predicament to waive him and eat his contract over three years, or hope that he can remain healthy for the majority of the season.
It is clear that both of these players want to be in a Lakers uniform next year with enough talent around them to be a contender. The problem is that they take up so much of the Lakers’ salary cap that the team will essentially be handicapped when looking to fill up the rest of the roster. They have to hope that they can hit a home run with their next draft pick and convince free agents to take a pay cut to join the Lakers next season.