Skip to content

Kobe will be back, but what do Lakers do this summer now?

Apr 13, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Kobe Bryant isn’t going to let his career end this way, limping off the court with a torn Achilles tendon.

It is going to end on his terns. He would not allow it to be any other way. He will be back. An hour after he limped off the court he was telling the media exactly that.

“I know I can do this,” Bryant said. “It’s fueling me. It’s fueling me. I can feel it already.”

As for when he’ll be back, it will be some time next season (we’ll have a better idea after his surgery but to get a full range of motion and leg strength back on these injuries often takes a year). He’ll almost certainly miss games — and at his age him returning to his current level of play seems unlikely — but you know he’ll be diligent about his recovery. He’ll be back. And when he’s back he’ll be good.

But what do the Lakers do this summer to prepare for next season?

Pretty much what they were already going to do. They don’t have a lot of other options.

First, re-sign Dwight Howard. He’s still the future. He’s still the man you build around for the post-Kobe era, it’s just now that era will include part of next season. The Lakers will offer him a max contract, you can expect him to sign it.

Next, they need to decide what kind of team they will be, what kind of system they will run. Coach Mike D’Antoni came in with how he wanted to play but the Lakers have largely modified away from that as it was clear the personnel on the roster didn’t fit that style. To D’Antoni’s credit they have gotten away from some of what he wanted to do and they run “horns” and some traditional NBA sets in there. With Kobe out do they go to a system that is a lot of Steve Nash with the ball in his hands, running the pick-and-roll with Howard?

This summer Lakers management has to decide what kind of team they want to be, how to tweak the roster to fit that ideal.

The problem is with a max Howard deal in place the Lakers remain hamstrung in trying to reshape the roster because they are so far over the luxury tax line — they are expected to have a payroll in the $100 million range, which under the new system would mean $85 million in taxes on top of it. Kobe alone will make $30 million next season. Even for the Lakers deep pockets with their rich cable deal that is a steep, steep price. It limits the trades they can make and they can only sign free agents for the veteran minimum.

The Lakers however, need to get more athletic on the wings with better defense on the perimeter (particularly while Kobe is out) and they need better depth at the point guard because Steve Blake functions okay as a shooter when Kobe is the ball handler but they now need better ball handlers to play when Steve Nash is sits/is out.

If you’re thinking trade, what do the Lakers have to trade that other teams want? Look at their rotation from Friday night outside Kobe/Howard (and Nash, who they would not move): Steve Blake, Earl Clark (who is a free agent this summer), Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison. On the bench there is Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill and Darius Morris.

There is nothing there you can trade for any real value because those are not players other teams want.

Then there is Pau Gasol.

The Lakers may not move him, they aren’t going to just ship him out for a lowball offer (which is why he wasn’t traded at the deadline). But he is the one player there will be interest in — he has a steep $19 million price tag but it’s the last season of his deal and he is still a very effective scorer in the post. Gasol could help a lot of teams.

What the Lakers will not take back in a deal is long-term contracts — right now the only guys on the books for the summer of 2014 are Steve Nash (for one more year) and the new Dwight Howard deal that would be signed in the summer. The Lakers will reshape the roster in a major way that summer.

And that likely will include Kobe — he wants this to end on his terms. That might mean a season or two after his current deal ends where he can play and show how he came back and could still play at a high level. Kobe would take a steep discount (ala Tim Duncan/Kevin Garnett) to be part of this reworked Lakers roster.

This was all pretty much the plan when Kobe was healthy. It doesn’t change much. But the Lakers could feel very different next season.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Warriors to sign Ian Clark

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Could former summer-league standout fill Golden State’s need for an off-the-bench shooter?

  2. Mavericks sign Jamil Wilson, Brandon Ashley

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Dallas also reportedly talking to Salah Mejri

  3. Report: Serge Ibaka not yet cleared to play after March surgery

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:19 PM EDT

    "Son Of The Congo" - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival Getty Images

    Thunder power forward was scheduled to play in African exhibition game

  4. Heat sign Josh Richardson

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT

    Josh Richardson, Spencer Dinwiddle AP

    Miami cleared roster room for second-round pick

  5. Nicolas Batum responds to Toronto rumor in hysterical fashion

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    I can tell you where Batum will land next summer — whichever team offers him the most money.

  6. Report: Knicks, Lakers, Wizards still interested in Kevin Seraphin

    Jul 28, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The Lakers and Knicks don’t make a ton of sense for him.

  7. Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Vin Baker AP

    He’s been sober four years, which is most important.

  8. Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan

    Did Michael Jordan hijack the draft process in Charlotte again?

  9. Wisconsin State Assembly passes Bucks arena deal, clearing the way for Gov. Walker to sign

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Scott Walker Scott Walker

    Walker is expected to sign the bill to allocate funds for a new arena.

  10. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov: “We had a really good offseason.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Mikhail Prokhorov Mikhail Prokhorov

    The Nets added solid role players in addition to re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

  11. Report: Clippers center Ekpe Udoh signs one-year deal in Turkey

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Ekpe Udoh Ekpe Udoh

    Udoh played five seasons with the Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

  12. Matt Barnes on Serge Ibaka: “He’s just dirty.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green

    Barnes hasn’t forgotten Ibaka’s altercations with Blake Griffin.

  13. Karl-Anthony Towns: I want Kevin Garnett to teach me “how to be a champion”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    Garnett came out to Summer League practices to work with Towns.

  14. Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee with a money gun shooting $100s.

  15. James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Ennis will get the chance to prove his case in training camp.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (3515)
  2. S. Curry (3013)
  3. K. Durant (2471)
  4. B. Haywood (2386)
  5. J. Fredette (2350)
  1. L. James (2309)
  2. I. Thomas (2308)
  3. T. Hansbrough (2230)
  4. C. Copeland (2139)
  5. A. Davis (1951)