Skip to content

Kobe injury a reality check for Lakers, doesn’t really change plan

Dec 19, 2013, 10:29 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant Getty Images

Even with Kobe Bryant, the playoffs were a long shot for the Lakers this season — their defense was slipping, and their offense was not going to carry them far enough in a deep Western Conference.

Kobe Bryant’s injury — out six weeks now with a fracture of tibial plateau in in his left knee — only exacerbates the problem. The Lakers have a rough stretch of the schedule coming up including some tough road games and in a West where the pace is 47-48 wins just to get the eight seed the Lakers are going to fall short.

Even with the injury, the Lakers long-term plans don’t really change.

This Bryant injury may be a reality check for some around the Lakers (and some of their rabid fans). They thought Kobe was going to come back from his Achilles surgery, return to near his All-NBA form fairly quickly and with just a few moves (a major signing or trade) they would be back as a contenders.

It was never that simple or easy and this injury should help bring that reality into focus. Kobe is not going to be the same, building a team around him will be difficult.

However, the injury doesn’t really change the Lakers plans.

First, the Lakers do not tank. They are not going to sell off a lot of assets and try to go the full Wiggins here — they don’t need to as they can draw major free agents (unlike smaller markets). Plus they never really could tank. Kobe will be back around Feb. 1 and you try to tell him how the Lakers should try to be bad to get some untested rookie.

The injury also doesn’t change how the Lakers feel about Kobe’s two-year, $48.5 million contract extension — that was about rewarding a loyal Laker who still fills the expensive seats and brings in the sponsors. Kobe has made the Buss family a lot of money, they gave him another cut. There was and is no regret there, and from a business perspective it was the right move.

With the injury the Lakers are going to look to make trades — don’t be shocked if guys like Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman get moved, those guys have value around the league (all bigs do). The Lakers will listen to any calls, but they are not going to take on salary that messes up future cap space.

Likely Pau Gasol spends this entire season with the Lakers then they let him walk (don’t expect him back with this team next). They will look for trades but with his $19.3 million salary and the Lakers not wanting to take on salary in future years (and teams being stingy giving away picks) there just are not going to be options.

Then this summer — and really more intently in the summer of 2015 — the Lakers will hit the free agent market hard, looking for the star player that they can both pair with Kobe and who can take over the mantle of Lakers leader when he is gone. Around that guy they bring in the right role players (and possibly a new coach) to make it all fit. It’s about acquiring the big talent first.

And that was always the plan. Injury or not.

Latest Posts
  1. Will Miami make a run at Kevin Durant?

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant AP

    Miami is a long shot to land him, but you can bet Pat Riley will have them positioned for a run.

  2. Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson does his imitation of Kobe’s shot

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lots of pump fakes. Lots and lots of pump fakes.

  3. Kings name Vlade Divac GM, Peja Stojakovic director of player development

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Vlade Divac Vlade Divac

    Stojakovic had been rumored for several weeks to be joining the Kings.

  4. Dwyane Wade playing dodgeball? We’ve got that (VIDEO).

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade would make Patches O’Houlihan proud.

  5. Report: Celtics engaged in contract extension talks with Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    If I were a betting man, I’d expect there’s a better than 50/50 chance a Zeller deal gets done.

  6. Dwight Howard says James Harden is the left handed shooter ever

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT

    James Harden AP

    Does Harden even make the all left-handed starting five?

  7. Fast Break notes: Baron Davis is honest about the draw of the NBA

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    The 2015 ESPYS - Arrivals Getty Images

    We have some Riley Curry news. You know you want to click now.

  8. Report: Bucks get Westbrook (not that one)

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Scrimmage Getty Images

    Charlie Westbrook reportedly signs with Bucks

  9. Report: Veteran forward Chuck Hayes agrees to deal with Clippers

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    The Clippers add more depth. It’s been a good offseason for Doc Rivers.

  10. Report: Suns have no intention to trade unhappy Markieff Morris

    Aug 31, 2015, 5:02 PM EDT

    Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris AP

    The Suns have no leverage now even if they wanted to move him, and apparently they don’t.

  11. Hassan Whiteside can touch the rim without jumping (photo)

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    You don’t even need to pump up his sneakers

  12. Report: Second-rounder Sir’Dominic Pointer won’t sign with Cavaliers

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    Cleveland can watch Pointer develop without having to pay him

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2861)
  2. K. Irving (2218)
  3. A. Davis (1895)
  4. L. James (1664)
  5. K. Bryant (1661)
  1. T. Thompson (1379)
  2. K. Durant (1341)
  3. B. Jennings (1265)
  4. J. Clarkson (1225)
  5. M. Leonard (1116)