Skip to content

Kobe Bryant talks with Jim Buss, reiterates ‘selfish’ desire for Lakers to contend next two seasons

Mar 24, 2014, 10:18 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is under contract for two seasons following this one, and then he very well could call it a career.

This season has already gone down the drain, lost due to injury. He doesn’t want to waste the next two seasons, and he’s not shy about about expressing that.

But only in the most-dysfunctional franchise could let the star player so publicly question the front office without meeting with its leader. And, for whatever problems they have, the Lakers are not that.

Kobe, via ESPN Los Angeles:

“Jimmy (executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss) and I actually talked after that and it’s important for us to have that conversation because this is their team, it’s been in their family for years and we all know what the track record is for that, but I’ve also been part of this franchise since I was 17 years old,” Bryant told Rovell. “I feel like I bleed purple and gold and I want to see this franchise be successful. I don’t want to hear the comments of dissension between Jim and [Lakers president] Jeanie [Buss]. We need to figure this thing out. We’re all moving in the same direction.”

“This organization is just not going to go [down],” Bryant said. “It’s not going to take a nose dive. But I think we need to accelerate it a little bit for selfish reasons, because I want to win and I want to win next season. So, it’s kind of getting them going now as opposed to two years from now.”

Bryant said his faith is as strong as ever in the Lakers’ ability to bounce back to contender status.

“Extremely confident,” Bryant said. “That was one of my concerns (when he re-signed) and they assured me, ‘This is fair for you for everything you’ve done for the franchise and will continue to do while being able to construct a team that is going to contend for a championship here over the next couple of years.'”

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $8,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

First of all, I love that Kobe calls him Jimmy rather than Jim. Perfect Kobe.

Also, Kobe is nothing but honest. He’s being selfish. His clock is ticking, and even if the Lakers’ most prudent strategy is a longer-term rebuild, that does nothing for him.

If the Lakers assured him they’d trade to contend, they’re only enabling Kobe and, by him going public, losing leverage in trade and free-agent negotiations.

Even if Buss and Kobe are on the exact same page about contending these next two seasons, it won’t be easy to accomplish, regardless.

The Lakers have won a third of their games this season. Since the NBA-ABA merger, 166 teams teams have won so few games during a full season. Rarely did they win at least 55 games, the threshold commonly associated with contending for a championship, within the next two seasons.

  • The 1988-89 San Antonio Spurs went 21-61, added David Robinson and went 56-26 the following year.
  • The 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs went 20-62, drafted Tim Duncan, also went 56-26 the following year and won the championship the year after that.
  • The 2002-03 Miami Heat went 25-57, drafted Dwyane Wade, traded for Shaquille O’Neal and went 59-23 to make the conference finals two years later.
  • The 2006-07 Boston Celtics went 24-58, traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and then went 66-16 the next year and won the championship.
  • The 2008-09 Oklahoma City Thunder went 23-59, let Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook grow up, drafted James Harden and Serge Ibaka and went 55-27 and reached the conference finals two years later.

And that’s the entire list. Five of 166 (three percent).

Can the Lakers make six of 172? (The Bucks, 76ers, Magic, Celtic and Jazz have also won fewer than a third of their games this season.)

Robinson and Duncan each played four years in college (and Robinson served two years in the Navy before joining the pros), so it’s unlikely the Lakers can add such an NBA-ready player in this draft like the Spurs twice did.

The Lakers don’t have anyone in the same realm as Durant, or even Westbrook, already on the team, so the Thunder model is out.

Even with their propensity to get discounts on trades, the Lakers probably don’t have the goods to add two stars and make a single-year turnaround like the Celtics did.

If there’s any model the Lakers can follow, it’s the 2002-03 Heat. The Heat were similarly bereft of assets, but they signed Lamar Odom and used him in the Shaq trade. And obviously, the Lakers would have to hit their draft pick this season, as Miami did with Wade. But signing someone to be used in a later trade (maybe for Kevin Love?) and going through the draft made this a two-year turnaround.

Would Kobe settle for contending in 2015-16 only? That could be a good compromise.

If the Lakers sink all their resources into building next season’s team as strong as it can be, I suspect they and Kobe will be disappointed with the result, both in 2014-15 and beyond. Many more than the five teams on the above list tried for a quick turnaround, and most of them got stuck with negative assets and few draft picks.

This is just going down a road toward trouble. Maybe the Lakers shouldn’t have given a $48.5 million extension to a 35-year-old with knee problems and an attitude.

Latest Posts
  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Report: Thunder sign Talib Zanna

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:33 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D League Showcase Getty Images

    Don’t expect him to make the regular-season roster this season

  10. Report: Nick Young actually inquired about playing for Australia

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Nick Young, Iggy Azalea AP

    Could Lakers wing play in the 2016 Olympics?

  11. Report: Tristan Thompson won’t accept less than max from Cavaliers, his agent thinks Raptors will offer it next summer

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Thompson might leverage the max from Cleveland, but it probably shouldn’t be because of this Toronto threat

  12. Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph AP

    By dropping an NBA draft pick, Canadians show how far they’ve come

  13. Nigeria beats Angola to win AfroBasket, qualify for Rio Olympics

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:16 PM EDT

    Olympics Day 10 - Basketball Getty Images

    Al-Farouq Aminu is headed back to the Olympics.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2767)
  2. K. Irving (2132)
  3. A. Davis (1828)
  4. K. Bryant (1613)
  5. L. James (1599)
  1. T. Thompson (1312)
  2. K. Durant (1291)
  3. B. Jennings (1221)
  4. J. Clarkson (1166)
  5. M. Leonard (1064)