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Kobe, Lakers want Raja Bell in free agency

Jun 22, 2010, 9:57 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Raja Bell clothesline.jpg
Do not adjust your computer screen. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers have taken a strong interest in free agent guard Raja Bell, with Kobe Bryant being one of Bell’s strongest advocates.
Bell is a “Three-and-D” guard who is best known for his physical brand of defense and his feud with Kobe Bryant when the Suns and Lakers met in the 2006 Playoffs. Bell and Bryant exchanged verbal and physical barbs with each other over the duration of the seven-game series, culminating in the pictured clothesline in game five. 
When asked about Bell, Kobe Bryant said that he didn’t know who Raja Bell was, and continually referred to him as a “kid,” despite the fact Bell is actually older than Bryant. Bryant also said that Bell might not have received enough hugs growing up; after Suns won game seven of the series, Bell’s mother reportedly entered the Laker locker room and asked Bryant if he needed a hug.
All of that is apparently water under the bridge now, as the two players have developed a strong mutual respect for each other (deep down, they likely had the same respect for each other when they were enemies on the court), and both are very open to the idea of Bell joining the Lakers next season. 
On the court, Bell would make a lot of sense for the Lakers, and could even take Derek Fisher’s spot in the starting lineup. With Bryant, Gasol, Artest, and Odom being the main playmakers in the triangle, all the Lakers really need their “point guard” to do is play physical defense, make open threes, and refrain from doing anything stupid. Bell excels in all three of those areas. One adjustment the Lakers would have to make if Bell took Fisher’s starting spot would be that while Fisher is a left-handed player and often drove to his strong hand, the right-handed Bell operates almost exclusively from the right side of the floor off the bounce. 
If Kobe and Bell have really put their issues behind them, which it appears they have, this move would make a lot of sense for the Lakers. 
  1. Drew - Jun 22, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    I don’t see this one working out. Bell is not a PG, even in the PG-friendly triangle offense. He’s also getting older and losing a bit on his game. As a solid defender, he is not going to chase around the likes of Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and all of the elite PGs of the West. They need a guy with some young legs who can match up with PGs.

  2. The Dude Abides - Jun 23, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    1. Which is why I’m hoping the Lakers are looking at Dorell Wright, who played SF, SG, and PG in Miami this past season.

  3. john - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    Ron Harper was not a PG either (or particularly young), during the Bulls’s late-90s run and the Lakers’s 00-02 run. Personally, I kind of like the big-guard tandem in the triangle, which is about moving the ball as opposed to dribbling it around anyway.

  4. brian Michaels - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    Raja Bell? I like it. Very out of the box if its true. Most of these rumors are not. But he is definitely Kobe’s kind of player. I don’t imagine they are seriously going to turn him into a point. More likely they are playing him against Shannon Brown as a replacement 2 guard who could also fill minutes at the 1 and 3 spots if needed.
    If you had to choose between Bell and Brown who would u take? Bell. No question. I like Shannon Brown but outside of dunks his real skill set is limited. Bell, Bryant and Artest would make a particularly menacing defensive team….

  5. Veinybrains - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    late 90’s Ron Harper = late 00’s John Salmons

  6. James Garay - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    This would be a great move for the Lakers to bring in quality bench player or starter like Bell. The Lakers need to improve their bench players since they were a no show all year. Players like Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison, and possibly Shannon Brown will not be back next year. I would also like to see Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga be release to give room for better players that can help the team.I got tired of seeing them on the bench doing nothing. The league has players like Ron Artest that came to the Laker just to help them when.
    Please forward my comments to Mitch Kopcheck.
    James Garay
    Trabuco Canyon

  7. Larry - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    Raja is one of the most liked and respected clubhouse guys. As a Suns fan I had hoped they would be able to move Barbosa and re-sign Raja again being he’s a friend of Nash’s.
    But players will stay away from PHX not knowing if the owner will have the money to keep the lights on. He wanted everyone to take a paycut and that’s why Kerr picked up and left.
    Sad days coming in PHX w/0 Amare.
    Best of luck Raja.

  8. Anonymous - Jun 23, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    wrong, bell is the new bruce bowen. Coming off of injury he will have legs. He’s 33 not 37

  9. Kareem - Jun 23, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    This would be a smart move. Raja would fit perfectly in the starting line-up! Yes he’s not a true PG, but in the triangle offense, it can work. Ron Harper wasn’t a true PG and they still made it work.

  10. the REAL Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    Nobody clotheslines My Kobe and gets away with it. Kobe may forgive Raja Bell but I DO NOT. If he comes back, I will stick my tongue out at him and probably draw a mustache on his picture. Let’s see how he likes that!
    There, Raja Bell, I have schooled you!

  11. tb - Jun 23, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Not sure about him starting, but this is exactly the kind of moves the Lakers should be making this off season. Good players who can play a role and don’t cost and arm and a leg.
    If they replaced Morrison and Farmar with Bell and someone like Dorell Wright, it would do a lot for their bench.

  12. Lion Woods - Jun 23, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Raja Bell? Well Ron Artest used to hound Kobe at Houston; Raja would hound Kobe at Phoenix… worked out the first time so why not give it shot. The Lakers only need to add a sure handed ballhandler who can defend the other small guards in the league. I think the Lakers will 3Peat with the right tweek.

  13. Laker Fan TasTic - Jun 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    $$$ will be the deciding factor. If Phil returns, cheap labor will be the theme of the Lakers bench. If he doesn’t, then maybe we can afford Raja or even maybe Carlos, Kyle,etc. Get ready for a wild free agents summer. Speaking of cheap, anyone else think Jason Williams would look good in a Lakers uni?

  14. the shark - Jun 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    I agree. IF they r going to get Raja Bell they r going to walk 2 the finals. I don’t see anybody strong for next yrs challenge. Every team is rebuilding their front line. Unless someone from the east builds a dream team sort of. Like a WADE LABRON BOSH & JO JOHNSON TEAM. We will see wat.

  15. Fishhead - Jun 23, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    You are all nuts. The only consistency for all 5 Laker championships with Kobe and Phil is Derek Fisher. The two season he was shipped off to Golden State and Utah were miserable years in the playoffs for the Lakers. Fisher provides leadership, consistency, and an even head to keep the other egos in check. You take the Fisher out of the picture and the Lakers are back to not reaching the finals.

  16. the shark - Jun 23, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Somebody needs to tell Mitch Kupchek to get rid of Luke Walton the masscot. He have’nt done anything since signing that contract. Thats dead wait 2. Maybe they can add dorrell Wright 2 the lakers.

  17. bkw - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    You’re missing the point. The idea is to bring in a PG to save Fisher and keep him fresh for the finals.

  18. dEDGE - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Kobe, Artest and Raja Bell on the court at the same time would give any team nightmares just thinking about it. Can you imagine the defense played if this deal comes to fruition? Get by one, another’s waiting, get by the second and you’re faced by an NBA Defensive First-Teamer. And if you manage to get by all three, you’ve got to shoot over either Gasol or Bynum.
    Mitch, sign him on July 1st and bring back Fish to back him up.

  19. P-Daddy - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Raja Bell is a _great_ idea, but not to replace Fisher at starting PG as the writer suggests. Assuming he’s healed, Bell would give terrific production/$$ at the backup 2/3 spot, depending on the matchup.
    They need Fisher back. And really, where are they going to get a better combo guard off the bench than Shannon Brown, who knows the system and is still only 24 years old with tons of potential.
    Hoping for Dexter Pittman and Sherron Collins in the draft….

  20. the REAL Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 23, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Make me an offer and shal trade thee a pony for a point guard. As King of the Hobbits, I have many good ponies.
    I have schooled you all!

  21. Llareggub - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Mitch, sign him on July 1st and bring back Fish to back him up.

  22. Chris Harris V900 - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Seems to me that Kobe keeps his friends close and his enemies closer – even if it is only on the court. Would be a good move to get Bell – but not at the expense of cutting Phil Jacksons pay!!

  23. Scott - Jun 23, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Is Bill Walton responsible for the Lakers keeping Luke Walton? That guy should have been gone a long time ago. He’s basically a mascot and Luke don’t get mad at me cause you know you’re just a masscot right now. Work on your game show you’re trying to improve at where you can really help the Lakers, cause right now your best game would be to show how fast you can make that door open before you and shut behind you, you feel me Luke?

  24. the shark - Jun 23, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    If Luke wants to be a laker a life time he better get hogging. The lakers r turning into the elite squad if they they get Raja Bell and re-sign Fisher. They r going to be the new bullies of the west.

  25. Black mamba - Jun 23, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    Hey Mitch Kupchack! If you need instant offense and reliable 3 point shooter off the bench. Please consider Eddie House in your list.

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