With one of the most disappointing seasons in Lakers season being followed by their marquee free-agent Dwight Howard bolting for Texas, many in Lakerland are patiently waiting not for this upcoming season — but for the summer of 2014 when a plethora of the NBA’s best players become free agents.
Outside of Steve Nash and rookies who end up with guaranteed contracts, no one has a contract that extends past the 2013-14 season, including Kobe Bryant. With a huge chunk of the team coming off the books, many expect that the Lakers will be huge players in free agency next season, but according to ESPN’s Henry Abbot, that may not be the case.
Why did a source close to Laker management tell ESPN.com: “Within the organization there isn’t a single person that believes we can bring LeBron aboard”?
This comes on the heels of James saying that he wants to retire a member of the Miami Heat, and even if those words weren’t uttered from James’ mouth, he would still remain a long shot as the Heat have his Bird Rights and he’s already taken one pay cut to play in Miami, what’s to stop him from taking another if it means winning more championships along side Dwyane Wade.
However, even if the James sweepstakes weren’t something the Lakers were interested in, Abbot believes that the Lakers will have trouble bringing in any marquee free agent next summer. Abbot sites conflicts like Bryant seemingly unwilling to take a pay cut from the $30 million he’s making this season and how tough it is to play alongside Bryant in Los Angeles. These concerns go beyond on-court play as players like Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were constantly in the shallow end of the press and constantly had negative stories written about them. Furthermore, the Lakers may not have as much cap space as expected next season.
If Bryant keeps making anything like that what he makes now, and the Lakers still have Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and various cap holds, they’ll only have around $15 million for a free agent, which means asking a star to take a pay cut to join a vacant and aging roster. It’s hard to envision realistic trades that could alter that math enough to matter.
The silver lining in all of this is the fact that Bryant saying that he won’t take a pay cut next season could be nothing more than an early ploy in negotiations. It wouldn’t make sense for Bryant to say that he’s willing to take a pay cut a full year before his contract is up. Also, even if a big free agent isn’t landed in the upcoming offseason, there is another class of young, talented free agents in the summer of 2015.
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