That Fast Turnaround Kobe Wants Probably Isn’t Happening

Darius Soriano —  March 24, 2014

Throughout his career Kobe Bryant has rarely been one to hold his tongue when it comes to speaking what he sees as the truth, but over the past few seasons, that’s been even more true. Put a microphone in front of Kobe and he’s going to give you his unfiltered opinion on whatever topic he is asked about.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when Kobe announced he would not return this season he was very open about his thoughts on this season and what his expectations for the Lakers are moving forward. While the entire sit down is worth your time, the part that was most compelling, at least to me, was when he spoke about next year’s team and whether he could wait another year after this off-season to improve the roster:

No, nope, not one lick. Let’s just play next year and suck again. No, absolutely not, absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. You have to get things done. Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, the same expectations I have for them up there. You have to be able to figure out a way to do both.

On top of those comments, were these given within the last couple of days:

The one sure-fire way to be a contending team is to have an abundance of talent (newsflash, right?). And in today’s NBA, the way you accumulate high end talent is by drafting it (the Thunder), signing it in free agency (the Heat), or trading for it (the 2008 – 10 Lakers). And once you have that talent in house, you have to be able to pay for it. It’s a pretty simple formula.

The problem for the Lakers is that none of those things are really possible next season. And a lot of it has to do with the CBA.

Let’s start with the draft since that is the one thing that the CBA really does not affect. The Lakers are primed to have a very good pick in the upcoming draft. That player should aid in bolstering the team’s core talent and, hopefully, be a building block player for years to come. But that player is only one guy. The Thunder didn’t get good with just Durant. They got good when Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka were added to Durant (not to mention the time that was given to let them develop). The only drafted players the Lakers will have on their roster next season will be whoever they pick this June, Robert Sacre, and Ryan Kelly. While I like Kelly and Sacre, let’s not confuse them with elite prospects.

But when it comes to trades and free agency, the Lakers are really stuck in dealing with the rules that govern the league.

While the Lakers have cap space to offer free agents or to use as a mechanism to absorb money in a trade for a high salaried player, the rules say the team cannot go over the salary cap unless they are using that money to sign their own players. That last point is a crucial one, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

So while you (or Kobe) can say “we just need to sign (or trade for) player X, Y, Z” it’s really not that simple. The Lakers can spend all their cap space on a marquee free agent (or two if those guys decide they want to take a bit less), but even in the most ideal world the roster would still be one built around Kobe and that marquee free agent (or two). The same is true for a trade — the Lakers can try to work a deal for a quality veteran (say, Kevin Love) and offer to sign and trade one of their own free agents (say, Pau Gasol), but even if that were to happen the Lakers would have Kobe, Love, and….not much else. Yes the could fill out their roster with role players,  but the types of players they’d be signing are the exact type of guys they signed last off-season (guys like Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wes Johnson, and Chris Kaman; guys who took less money to play in L.A. for the Lakers or guys who no one else wanted and are looking to redeem their careers with no other option but to take the minimum).

Let’s go the other way, then. Let’s say the Lakers should maximize their spending by inking their own players via their Bird Rights and building up the roster that way. Only, if you do that, you’re essentially committing big dollars to the likes of Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Nick Young, and Farmar. In other words, you’re going over the cap to keep the same team you had this year. This, as far as I know, isn’t what Kobe means when he says he wants a quick turnaround. In fact, I’d imagine it’s the opposite.

This is the part of the story where I tell you this is actually, at least partially, Kobe’s fault. After all, he took a huge salary in the coming seasons and that salary is what is eating away at the team’s cap space and limiting their ability to sign multiple high level players. And there is some truth in that. If Kobe and the front office had been able to agree on a contract that paid him less, those savings could have been transferred into the pockets of other players the Lakers would want to acquire.

That said, what’s also true is that the Lakers are simply in a position where the rules are somewhat against them. By having so many contracts expiring at the same time, the Lakers will fall beneath the salary cap. This, then, puts a limit on what they can actually spend on players this summer. (If you even wondered by Pau Gasol makes more money than LeBron James, this is why — LeBron took less than the maximum salary (just like Wade and Bosh did) so that their contracts could fit into the Heat’s cap space.) Further, because all those contracts expire at the same time and the assets they do have under contract aren’t that valuable around the league, they cannot easily flip those pieces into the better players that would accelerate the rebuild in the manner that Kobe describes in his quotes above.

This is the reality the Lakers face. And, ultimately, Kobe must face it too. There is only so much you can do when all your talented players diminish in quality at the same time while simultaneously lacking alternative assets to improve your roster via the other avenues the CBA allows. So, while Kobe can talk about turning things around quickly the fact is the Lakers aren’t in any position to actually make that happen. Unless you see LeBron, Bosh, and Carmelo all deciding they want to make $7 million a year to come play for the Lakers. Yeah, me neither.

Darius Soriano

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58 responses to That Fast Turnaround Kobe Wants Probably Isn’t Happening

  1. What percentage of the fan base do you think is sensible and have realistic expectations about this team going forward? I’m guessing 5% or less. It’s frustrating because this post obviously makes perfect sense, but you have Kobe, Magic, ect… acting like this team has a realistic chance at contending next year. The concerning thing to me is we don’t really know what the Mitch/Jim/Jeannie faction truly believe as well. Obviously they aren’t going to say contending for a title isn’t an option the next couple years, but what will happen this summer? I’m hoping that conserving cap space for 2015 and 16 is a priority, but who knows.

  2. Kobe has to realize that his contract is the single biggest reason the Lakers will have difficulty becoming a contender again. Unfortunate that kobe let his ego get in the way of the big picture when negotiating his last contract.

  3. Dan, the “5%” is growing. I’m actually surprised it’s taking this long. Personally I felt that way as soon as I heard about that crazy salary cap monopolizing contract Kobe and the Lakers agreed to. That contract told me neither Kobe nor the Lakers would reach the Conf finals in the next two years.

  4. Wonder what the dialog between Kobe and Jim Buss consisted of that ‘cleared the air’. Part of me thinks they’re just telling him what he wants to hear, but surly Kobe is too smart to not understand the situation.

  5. The Lakers rolled the dice last year and it did not work out. The Kobe/Nash contracts next year minimize what they will be able to do. This will have been a very lost season if they were unable to develop any players who will be part of future rotations. Indiana and San Antonio are good examples of teams who have developed players into stars over a 3-4 year period. The Lakers have been delinquent in not taking better advantage developing their bench players and D league players. That may be changing but how would getting a new coach alter that?

  6. Baylor Fan – Regarding coaching…… Not saying D’antoni has been great but he’s clearly been the scapegoat for the teams failures. I’d be ok if they fired him, but ONLY if they know exactly who they want to replace him and the framework for a deal is already in place. Worst case scenario is firing him and then interviewing 4 or 5 candidates, basically 2011 all over again. If that’s their plan I’d rather just let MDA finish out his contract next season. I hope the ideal target is SVG, but I have no idea what they’re thinking there.

  7. Another season of 50% or 60% decrease will cost the team several million per the contract with TW. Makes more sense they spend that money and go over cap to increase ratings.

  8. Big city/high ticket price teams like the Lakers & Knicks probably have a harder time w/ “5 year/building teams via the draft” plans than small market teams. Ticket prices just don’t allow it. An interesting Double Edge sword. These two teams have always competed for entertainment $$ in cities filled with multitudes of entertainment options. Now for the 1st time, add in the fact that both teams now also directly compete with other NBA teams (Clips & Nets) in the same markets having much more successful seasons.

    It will indeed be interesting to see how Buss & Dolan respond to their new challenges.

  9. Are we heading into the dark age of Lakers? I sure hope we can hit the jackpot in the first round and pick up a hidden gem in the second round. At least make it a 45 win season next year, then hopefully, get a marquee free agent in 2015 to take the torch from Kobe.

    I dont fault Kobe for taking that big contract at all. His value in ticket sales and TV revenue is way beyond whatever Lakers will be paying him. I think it was the players union failed to get an exclusion in the CBA to reward players being loyal to a franchise for a lengthy career, say 12 years. That way, players are rewarded for their dedication toward the end of a good career, and franchise owners are not penalized by cap space for taking care of an iconic player.

    Go lakers!

  10. 5D2: “Are we heading into the dark age of Lakers?” Heading into? We are there. I have written many times over the past 2 years that our 8 year record of not being in the Finals is within easy reach. We are now in year 4 and as per this thread, when is the projected contending team going to be put together? We are a favorite to break the record.
    Dan: “Worst case scenario is firing him and then interviewing 4 or 5 candidates” What? Don’t like the way that turned out last time? How bout when we interviewed 2 candidates? The common link is those doing the interviewing. “I have no idea what they’re thinking there.” You and me both.
    Aaron L/Big City: I do not like the extension either, however it takes two parties to enter a contract

  11. In the toughest year of my long fandom of the Lakers-

    It can only end with the Clippers winning the ring this year.

    The final bite!

  12. The problem is not Kobe’s contract. It lies in a CBA skewed towards the owners in a one sided manner.

  13. It can only end with the Clippers winning the ring this year.

    The final bite!
    ___
    …in the ass

    ___
    The problem is not Kobe’s contract. It lies in a CBA skewed towards the owners in a one sided manner.
    ___
    Exactly right!

  14. Been saying it all along we wont be that good next year. Saddens me to say it but this team wont move fwd until Kobe retires. Let me make one thing clear, the Lakers offered the money and he said yes, nobody i mean NOBODY on this world would say “ohh thats too much take 10 million off and you got yourself a deal” at the end of the day he took a 6 mill paycut i dont know, if the Lakers offered 18-20 million he probably would had take it but they offered 24 and he said yes. Im hopeful that in 2015 we might make a splash and finally return to the place we always have in this league, but the restrictions of the CBA that Darius pointed out nake me believe that it would take longer than that. I been saying that it might take longer but im hopeful for a 2015 rebirth but im not holding my breath.

  15. Even if you get s good draft pick….that player will not be better then Gasol…You need to replace Gasol and the the difference of Kobe’s play.. He will not be as good as two years ago…BTW…Kobe ..you should sit on the bench…you are getting paid to be part of THIS team…don’t distance yourself…

  16. I’ll keep saying it till people except it. The lakers need to be bad for a few years to get solid draft pics that will attract three max free agents.

  17. The lakers need to be bad for a few years to get solid draft pics that will attract three max free agents.

    ——————————

    They are handling the first part well …. by the way, a team can draft high for several years and still “suck”, to use Kobe’s term (examples: Cleveland; Sacramento). Attract three max guys? Good luck with that.

  18. Robert: “Heading into [the dark age of Lakers]? We are there. I have written many times over the past 2 years that our 8 year record of not being in the Finals is within easy reach. We are now in year 4 and as per this thread…”

    I don’t think 4, 6, or 8 years of no Finals is the dark ages these days. Under the new CBA, and with competition from the Clippers to draw free agents to L.A., and with a different marketing landscape overall, and an eroding Laker mystique amongst other franchises rising, maybe Laker fans should lower their expectations. Why does anyone think the Lakers are going to continue to be as successful as they’ve been? It must take a large leap of faith. It’s going to be tougher to build championship teams when parity is the league’s goal. Then, of course, the Lakers must find visionaries like they’ve had in the past. I don’t see any right now.

  19. “I’ll keep saying it till people except it. The lakers need to be bad for a few years to get solid draft pics that will attract three max free agents.”

    Are you talking with Laker management, who has to sell tickets, has a brand to maintain in a competitive market, has Kobe, who they made a commitment to? Get them to accept it.

  20. Contrary to popular belief, acrimony is not what plagued Melo’s relationship with D’Antoni or caused Stoudemire’s growing frustration. No one disliked D’Antoni. No one thought he was a bad person. It’s just that some Knicks thought D’Antoni’s system was an exercise in futility.The D’Antoni detractors felt the Knicks’ defense was porous at times not because they couldn’t play it, but because they jacked up shots too quickly, too unexpectedly, preventing their defense from getting back and getting set.

    From LA Times. Sound familiar. Fool me once bla bla bla

  21. Rfen…
    Your point about parity being the league’s goal is well taken. Trouble is, IMO, they’ll wind up with mediocrity. Hamstringing the Lakers, which again IMO, was a goal of the new CBA and The Veto will have the consequence of alienating the most populous and loyal, worldwide fanbase.The Lakers have propped up the weaker franchises for a long time via revenue sharing. Now the Cubans, Gilberts and Sterlings have the upper hand.

  22. You can’t rush a player back from injury, otherwise you risk a worse injury. The same should be said about rushing a team back when it’s run is done. Trying to compete for a championship next year is like trying to come back from a catastrophic knee injury after an MRI and some ultrasound therapy. The Lakers need to rebuild their structure, add strength, regain coordination, and learn to trust themselves.

    I hope the Lakers will be able to keep the guys they like from the current roster. I know who I like (Hill, Farmar, Meeks, Bazemore, Henry). I hope Sacre and Kelly keep growing their game over the off-season. Kelly has surprised me with his game. It seems his shot can find the hole, he makes good passes, he seems a willing defender and positions himself really nicely. A healthy offseason should be interesting for him. Like anyone else here, I hope we get lucky in the lottery. Wiggins, Exum, Vonleh, Smart… I like those guys. I think we’ll get one of them.

    The problem is, we probably need two lottery picks, either this year or one from this class and another from the next. Two young studs with a high level FA in 2015, and Kobe… now that is getting you somewhere. If Kobe really wants to play along, he can take less money when this extension runs out, and lets see if another FA comes loose in ’16. That is probably the quickest rebuild to contention possible. If everything drops our way in both picks and free agents, then we can look to the 16-17 season as a possible run to glory.

    Like I said, you expect a player to work hard and compete as much as his body lets him. It’s not realistic to expect a player to go out there with major structural damage to a key joint. It is natural that a player will have those sorts of injuries and you hope they return to their game as quickly as the body allows. The same standard needs to be held for teams. The Lakers spent money to win. They gave well deserved contracts to key components of their team. Players age, they lose their edge, the disease of more plays a role as well. The CBA is a major factor for teams and finally, the various issues with CP3 and Dwight Howard were unfortunate injuries to the franchise. Lets be realistic about how long we can expect it to take for the team to recover. I am looking forward to watching the new Lakers superstar develop. I hope Kobe can understand all that.

  23. I am guessing that if Kobe had his druthers, he would want the team to try to get Anthony for about 15M, use the stretch on Nash, try to get Pau back for about 7M, and bring back Blake, Farmar, and Hill. That is of course pure spec, but I think that would be Kobe’s kind of team (and obviously not a D’Antoni team). There is IMO zero chance that will happen.

    My guess as to what they will actually try to do is get Kyle Lowry this year, Kevin Love next year, and then try to regroup around Lowry, Love, and the draft pick.

    Many people here have been saying that they think MDA is gone. That may be true, but frankly I have no idea. I will not be surprised either way.

  24. If the Buss family wanted to spend lots of money, does the CBA allow it? Dr. Buss had 600 million. The Lakers franchise is worth a billion.(1) So the Buss kids could spend $300 million and still have enough money for life.

    But if the Buss family wanted to spend $300 million, would the CBA allow it?

    GOOOOoooOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!!

    (1) http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/dr-jerry-buss-net-worth/

  25. Warren Wee Lim March 25, 2014 at 7:26 am

    JohnnyP, the best answer I can tell you is NO. Its because of the CBA. Now if you mean spending $300 million outside the salary of players, then I guess its a yes.

  26. Some of the comments I’m reading here attempting to justify the timing & salary cap limiting extension the Lakers & Kobe agreed upon would help the Lakers win another title w/ Kobe in the next two years makes absolutely no sense.

    My belief is quite simple. A decision was made by both the Lakers and Kobe. Both had to believe, had to know while the move is beneficial to both parties for a variety of reasons, a title, heck, even visions of a serious contender in the next two seasons was not viewed as a reality.

    If either party thought otherwise, especially Buss and crew, the franchise is more dysfunctional than I thought. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the Laker front office rec’d the new CBA memo.

  27. I think the lakers are going to stretch Steve Nash, get a top 5 pick, and sign either Carmelo Anthony, eric Bledsoe, or someone of that stature. That is definitely a playoff team with players like farmar, nick young, Johnson. What people don’t realize is that the Lakers would still go over the cap if it meant they could win a ring. If getting kobe’s sixth, winning the next ring to overtake the Celtics, comes together that will make them more money then any penalty the cap can impose. So the Lakers are not scared, I’m sure they had a plan, and if anything the rest of the league is doing a great job at making sure they keep the Lakers down.

  28. If Kobe took 10 million less what Free agent would you guys use the money on? If Kobe decided to work for free, what free agent would you spend the money on?? Kobe’s contract is an easy target for people who hide from reality. Spurs haven’t gotten any big name free agents, their biggest addition is Kawhi Leonard who was asked to play defense his rookie year. The problem the Lakers have is jettisoning the triangle. You have to play to the strengths of the players on ur team. MDA’s system all but assures the Lakers wont contend any time soon

  29. Aside from some lip service, I have heard nothing from the front office that indicates they think they will be championship contenders in the next two years. My guess is that they are looking at getting into the playoffs as a best-case scenario. This makes sense because they don’t have a 1st round draft pick next year.

    The front office certainly isn’t going to discuss their actual plans with any of us, but they have given no indication that they are sitting on their hands. This is a process and we are in the middle of it.

  30. The obvious solution to the Laker roster next year is to not sign any elite superstar players. The Lakers need to sign 2 or 3 young guys who are upgrades over this years starters. Guys who legit starters who make roughly 4 million. This would fill out the core roster for years to come along with this years Draft Pick. They then add 1 or 2 vets whose contracts would expire at the end of the year. They come off with Nash which allows the team to add an All-Star to an already solid group. If this years team had a shot of making the Playoffs when health then this solid team should at least be that capable. Becoming strong favorites the following year. Then Kobe’s Contract expires and the team could add yet another All-Star potentially.

    I see this as a very good blue print. As the all stars the Lakers would want won’t be available this year most likely and the mid tier guys are not competed for nearly as much. It has become a league of All-Star contracts and minimum contracts.

  31. BigCity: The KB extension hurts us and the blame for it does fall on both the FO and KB, but mostly on the FO. It simply kills us “basketball” wise, and no financial or long term reward explanations change that. Kobe is an employee (albeit a well paid one – so he gets a very small portion of the blame). Management is responsible for controlling payroll as is the case with all companies.
    Laker Future: I do not see anyone here thinking we can compete next year no matter what we do. Adding Melo and a draft pick to our roster will make us better in the short run, but not a contender. And rr is correct – that is about the best we could do, so like I said a while ago, let the 2015 tank discussion begin. Same thing as this year. Barley get into the playoffs on one end or tank on the other.
    rfen: There are 30 teams in the league, so on average each one make the Finals every 15 years and wins every 30 years, so no a hiatus of 8 years is not unheard of. That is for the rest of the league. It is a major issue for the Lakers. We have made the finals 31 times and won 16 championships. Yes this will be more difficult with the new CBA, but ironically, it doesn’t seem to have impacted the Heat or the Spurs. If parity had been achieved we would have different teams every year and it is the same old NBA with a few elite teams at the top. We are just not one of them The CBA does give the FO a convenient excuse. However your statement “the Lakers must find visionaries like they’ve had in the past. I don’t see any right now.” That is correct. We have had Jerry Buss, Pat Riley, Jerry West, and Phil Jackson. Replacing guys like that is difficult, and we have not even come close. Until we do replace them – mediocrity or worse will prevail (perhaps a little better because of the Pacific Ocean, but that will not get us to contention).

  32. I forgot to add: Mitch K is fine. He is not Jerry West. However he is not the problem : )

  33. The league may want parody, but the Lakers generate at least $200 million more than most teams. When you couple the extra revenue with all the perks LA has to offer…the Lakers have a huge advantage when it comes to building a contender quickly, even with the new CBA.

    The front office has done a masterful job of setting expectations so low (by hiring the wrong coaches, losing star free agents and draft picks for almost nothing), that most fans have given up on contending any time soon. Ive never seen such resignation from Laker fans. What’s worse is that these same fans don’t seem to mind it. These comments could be copy/pasted on to a Milwaukee Bucks blog….”if we can hit the lotto in the next two drafts,…if we can somehow get a big free agent to sign with us, etc, than maybe we can be contenders several years down the line”.

    Kobe and Magic’s criticism of the front office serve as a reminder that We Are Not the Bucks….

    I don’t think Kobe is asking for a super team like Miami, or a deep team like Indiana. All he wants is a team that has a chance. Last season’s team with a healthy Kobe, Pau and Dwight weren’t one of the favorites, but they had a chance against anyone in a 7 game series. Teams like Golden State, Portland, Memphis fall into the same category this season. Even teams like Minn and Pho are a move or two from contending.

    If the Lakers get a quality free agent like Carmelo or Lowry, resign Pau and some solid role players, trade their draft pick, this team can get back to being competitive quickly. For two decades, Kobe has helped make this team the top draw in the league, as well as the winningest team of this generation. He has given every ounce of his body and strength to this franchise. He deserves to have a competitive team around him, and the lowering of expectations from others will not deter him.

  34. I think Vasheed s summary is the most likely scenario for this offseason but I also think rr’s breakdown of what the Lakers should do is exactly what the strategy the team needs to try and do to regroup for the long haul. I realize this means no championship before Kobe’s contract is up – and many people will not be happy with that plan – but I just don’t see how things can be turned around faster than that. This will be harder for Laker fans to swallow if the Clippers make it to the finals in the next 2-3 years, something that they are on track for. But, this is the reality of where we are today. Bottom line is that if Kobe wants another ring, he will have to hang around for a couple more years after his current contract is up.

  35. Robert: No need to add your last line. I think by now everyone who has ever visited this site knows what your beef is by now. Heck, you seem to address it in every single one of your posts.

  36. This is how I see the Lakers spending their $ this summer. 1)Get Boozer for very cheap after the Bulls amnesty him 2) give Deng a 1 year contract for about $10mil (have to overpay for 1 year deal). 3) Keep a few of the min level guys from this year (Farmar, Henry).

  37. What Vasheed said makes sense. Build a low seeded playoff team next season with reasonable contracts, hope the draft pick becomes a solid player by its second year and add an all-start to that cast for Kobe’s last year. That way you can be a contender in Kobe’s last season without going to the lottery twice. Is it easy to make it happen? Of course not, but it’s possible…

  38. With Melo potentially headed to Chicago, Carlos Boozer in effect is a candidate for amnesty. It would have to be done before Chicago gets enough cap to sign him, they might even need to shed Dunleavy too. Once Boozer hits amnesty, we can bid something like 4-5 million to claim his 1-yr deal. This gives us a potential starter for that amount. Although he’s been declining since 2012, at 4-5M he’s a very good add.

    There are plenty of teams that would want to get out of their contracts, Detroit is a very good example. Joe Dumars with cap space is quite a mess. Maybe we could trade Nash’s expiring contract for 1 of their contracts.

    If these 2 moves happened, we would have consumed 9-10 million of our cap space, added 2 starters in the process, can convince Pau to remain on a 2-yr deal. What we have left on our cap can be spent on a certain free agent point guard, use the remaining bit on re-signing some of our guys like Nick Young, Meeks, X, Farmar and Bazemore.

  39. Craig W.: “Aside from some lip service, I have heard nothing from the front office that indicates they think they will be championship contenders in the next two years. My guess is that they are looking at getting into the playoffs as a best-case scenario…”

    I’m sure they don’t know where they’ll be two years from now. How could they?

    There’s a lot of juggling in running an NBA franchise. I think the Laker FO wants (needs) to both be a competitive team now, and to build an elite contending one at the same time. It’s not all or nothing. For a competitive team, the best-case scenario is always a championship. That doesn’t mean they’re favored to win it, or that it’s even very likely. It’s the goal. What they work for. Everything is not predictable, and even miracles happen. They sell that to themselves, and to the fans to keep them watching and spending.

    Maybe the Lakers will decide to tank next season and share that plan with everyone. Or not. My guess is that they’re scrambling for answers, but at least have some kind of 2-year plan that includes a big improvement in year one. Also the Laker FO is not just cold and calculating. They’re human, emotional, and don’t want to suffer another bad season.

  40. rfen,
    I agree with you. I just didn’t see any way to be championship level by Kobe’s 2nd year. Vasheed and Warren have ideas I could really get on board with. I really don’t see us signing a max free agent this year, but to set ourselves up to improve, then jump next summer would seem more likely. However, without some luck involved, I still don’t see a contender for 15/16 either. We will need that year to come together and then fine tune the following summer.

  41. Spurs haven’t gotten any big name free agents,

    Since Duncan took a pay cut from about 20M down to about 50-60% of that, the Spurs are probably the worst example that you could have chosen to make this point. Also, Nowitzki is already on record saying that he is willing to take a huge pay cut if it will help Dallas to get back into contention. We will see if he follows through.

    To be clear, I don’t begrudge Kobe his choice at all; I blame the FO. But Duncan played it differently, and Nowitzki probably will as well.

    We will see how it affects team-building over the length of the deal. At the moment, it does not look good.

  42. The Anonymous up there is me.

  43. Melo to the Lakers…@ a paycut…to $15 million (making $21 mill this season). Just can’t see it. Not w/ Chicago interested in him. And lately, rumors of Houston being interested in their “Big 3″ of ‘Melo, Harden, & Howard. Deal would be constructed around a sign & trade (allowing ‘Melo to accepted a much smaller paycut while still getting approx $20 mill w/ no state tax) w/ the Knicks getting the expiring bloated contracts of Jeremy Lin (return of Linsanity?) and Omar Asik, plus young & inexpensive Chandler Parsons. By the summer of 2015, Knicks would only have approx $13 mill on the books, allowing Phil Jackson to “seriously” talk to LeBron, Love, etc, etc.

    No, don’t see ‘Melo in L.A., at least not with the Lakers.

  44. No, don’t see ‘Melo in L.A., at least not with the Lakers.

    ————————

    Me neither. At least, he will visit a couple times a year as a player for another team.

  45. WRT Melo, I said that I think Kobe will want to do that, not that it will happen. Quoting myself:

    “There is IMO zero chance that will happen. ”

    Personally, I think that Anthony will either go to Chicago or stay with the Knicks.

  46. MannyP: OK – I am going to drop the “Mitch is fine” line, however, I will be forced to re-add it if I get responses that state I am picking on Mitch somehow : ) We will see.
    Future: The next couple years we will not be contenders , so it appears we all agree now (earlier this year – some were anticipating a quick turnaround from this quagmire). We have two choices. Wait it out, perhaps tank again, and at least keep most of our powder dry for 15 and beyond. Or get impatient and try to do something now. Either way we are a couple, if not several years out from contending.
    LT mitchell: “I’ve never seen such resignation from Laker fans.” Yes – since everyone is getting conditioned to this like Milwaukee fans, the excuses are built in again. Expectations are so low for the next couple of years so how can we possibly blame anything on the FO? We may set my 8 year record and nobody will be accountable for it. Four years from now people will be saying – come on – we knew this was going to be tough, give it some more time.
    Being a Loyal Fan: I think this will be a constant topic for the next couple of years. I choose to cheer for the players and call out the coaches and the FO. If you choose to yell at players and support the FO – that is your choice. Lastly – if you want to be patient and watch video of our championship exploits – that is fine too (I do that sometimes – well not the be patient part). To each their own !

  47. money can’t buy you love, but brains usually can. until there’s a clear sense of what this organization wants, it will stumble and fans will suffer.

    the angry kobe is infinitely more believable than “it’s all cool now” kobe. (it probably would have been better to be less angry, but clearly he’s worried.)

    obviously kobe will motivate himself to win a title every year (and he killed himself last year to just have a shot at it) but I can’t believe he sees a glimmer of hope at this point.

    I’d bet that kobe is willing to ride out into the sunset if he feels there’s at least a shot. But the current coach and players are not even close to an answer.

    Some of these players would do alright in a system that actually includes offense and defense, and that’s assuming that Nash is done and Pau is gone.

    Keeping D’Antoni essentially acknowledges another rebuilding year for a measly 4 mill. Firing the coach means you better have a good idea of a replacement, and clearly their hiring processes in that area are pathetic.

    It’s not too late to turn it around, but it’s getting close if you want a happy kobe and laker fans with some sense of hope.

  48. Key to next season and the rebuild is getting someone like Stephenson. If we then picked up at worst case Smart in the draft this will give us 3 new starters over this season (Kobe, Stephenson, Smart?). Our issue will be center and PF. We will need at minimum to add ring protection and decent rebounding in these positions. This along with retaining some of the better players from this year will position us for a run at the playoff at least. Lets not forget that if Kobe comes back anywhere near his last season adds a superstar to our lineup and Stephenson could also be in that category. Won’t win us a championship will put us a lot closer.

  49. Parrothead Phil March 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Robert,
    With re: Heat
    The current CBA has not affected their ability to build a contendor yet because the team was constructed under the old CBA. When the Big 3’s deals expire after 2016, they are going to have a tough time keeping the team together. I also believe that they will be paying the repeater tax in 2016.
    With re: Lakers
    You are correct that Kobe’s extension kills the Lakers chances of being serious contenders through 2016, but the decision was made that a championship was not realistically in reach anyways.
    Craig W and Vasheed,
    Your summations of the Lakers immediate future are dead on. This is Kobe’s last contract and another ring is (absent a miracle) not in the plan. Jeannie said in that ESPN LA interview with regards to the extension that the Lakers plan on conducting a farewell tour Kobe’s final season.

  50. Parrothead Phil March 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    SInce this blog does not have a “like” button similar to Facebook, I’ll just say “well said” to Robert’s 1:39pm comment.

  51. During the Smush era, the Lakers went from barely making the playoffs to first in the West in half a season. It didn’t take a major rebuild, consecutive lottery picks and all star free agents. All it took was the improvement of Bynum and getting DFish.

    Portland is on the verge or has reached contender status this season, after being a bubble team last season. Their moves were signing Robin Lopez and Mo Williams. Again, smart moves, but nothing major.

    The Knicks went from a 54 win team with hopes of upsetting the Heat to a bottom dweller this season. They didn’t lose any all stars, but they did lose Kidd, and a couple players, like JR Smith, have regressed this year. Little things made a huge difference.

    The main difference between the Mavs team that won the title and this year’s version that is eking into the playoffs is there is no Barrea and Chandler. Dirk is still Dirk.

    …..the point is that the difference between a playoff bubble team and a contender is not that big. A couple smart moves can be the difference. Becoming a contender next season, with the major advantages and resources the Lakers have, is a very real possibility, depending on what the front offices’ goals are. Getting Kobe back, and finding a better coach for this team alone will be a major boost. Add an all star level payer to this roster via free agency, along with the lottery pick (which can be traded for another all-star level player), and this team can easily be in the hunt to win the West.

  52. LT Mitchell,

    One caveat to your 3:09 pm post, the Lakers of the Smush era had a prime Kobe Bryant. Not only was he in his prime, he was arguably the best player in the world. When that is your starting point the route to becoming a contender is not a long one. This current team is even worse than the one that started Smush Parker.

  53. rogers,

    next years version of Kobe will obviously be a downgrade compared to Kobe in his prime, but this team has gasol, and even an aging gasol is a significant upgrade over kwame. I’ll call it a wash.

    when comparing the west leading spurs to the lakers, the Kobe/pau duo is in the same class as the Duncan/Parker duo, but the spurs have Leonard, ginobli, green, and most importantly, great coaching. if the lakers add a Carmelo or a Lowry, and trade the draft pick for a starter, I would argue that the Lakers could have just as much, if not more talent than the spurs.

    the spurs were supposedly old and washed up years ago and needed to rebuild……but great ownership and great coaching has kept the spurs on top (two things the lakers do not have). if Jim gets his act together, hires the right coach, and adds the right pieces, this team can absolutely contend next season.

  54. LT, the champion Mavs had Tyson Chandler at C, a still-effective Jason Terry, and solid leadership in Kidd, along w Dirk. Those aren’t small differences, they’re fairly big ones.

    I agree with most here – the rebuild won’t happen overnight. Rebuilding through the draft takes a few years and let’s face it, some luck as well. Injuries are mostly out of a FO control yet can have a huge impact (see Chicago/Rose).

    However:
    had we gotten a bit luckier in the CP3 deal,
    or had Dwight and Kobe meshed a little better, and Nash hadn’t pulled up lame, we could all be congratulating the FO right now for a masterful job of rebuilding on the fly.

    Jeannie and Mitch have indicated that there’s a plan. Maybe there is some secret move they’re planning that will catapult us into contention.
    That would be what we, as Laker fans, are used to.

    We’ll find out soon enough.

  55. JC,

    No doubt, losing Kidd’s leadership, along with Terry, was a blow, but the Mavs offset those losses somewhat with the additions of Calderon, Harris and Monte. The biggest blow, IMO, was downgrading from Chandler to Dalembert.

    The champion Mavs team had a couple pieces that the current one does not have….but, like I said, the Lakers are in position to add a couple major pieces this summer if they decide to follow that route.

    One major piece can make the difference in turning a bubble team into a contender. The Lakers can add two major pieces this summer, if they choose to. They also have the option of upgrading the coach. Two major pieces along with a coaching upgrade can easily turn this team into a contender.

  56. LT,

    Portland had Lillard, Matthews, Batum, and Aldridge, and need to fix an historically bad bench. The Lakers back then had Kobe and Odom, both in their 20s.

    The current Lakers, as noted many times, unlike those teams, have no starting lineup, no core, no foundation. They have three very old future HOFers who have slipped a lot/can’t physically play, and a collection of guys who are NBA bench players.

  57. rr,

    The core is Kobe (assuming he returns healthy) and Gasol, similar to San Antonio’s aging core of Duncan and Parker. The Spurs obviously have better talent surrounding their duo, but the Lakers can add two all star level players this summer, one via free agency, and the other by trading their pick.

    If Kobe had been healthy all year, this team could have eked into the playoffs. Add two all stars and a better coach to a playoff bubble team, and that team should contend for a title.

  58. Warren Wee Lim,

    Thank you for the answer.

    So, even if the Busses were willing to pay the expensive luxury taxes, they couldn’t just spend as much as they are willing to spend? The CBA includes an absolute limit on what owners are allowed to spend on salary?

    Hmmmnn.

    Thanks again, and

    GOOOOoooOOOOOOO LAKERS!!!!!