Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kobe Bryant and Possible Free-Agent Targets

R. Cory Smith@@RCorySmithSenior Writer IFebruary 26, 2014

Jan 7, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) comes off the court after the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 110-97. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few months remaining in the NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are closer to the doldrums of the Western Conference than a playoff spot.

It's a tough time in Lakerland, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the offseason move the team might be lining itself up for when the season finally concludes.

The Lakers might not be able to lock up a huge free agent like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James over the summer and could very well be looking to the 2015 offseason to sign a big-name player. But with a number of consistent players that could be on the market, Los Angeles might come away with a few that will help in the future.

Along with planning for the offseason, the Lakers also have to consider what they will do with Kobe Bryant for the remainder of the season.

Here is a look at the most recent rumors about free agency and Bryant's return.


Kobe Bryant On the Shelf for Remainder of Season?

While Bryant might not be a huge fan of the idea, it is becoming an all-too-real fact that the Lakers would be better off just shutting down the superstar for the rest of the year.

Dave McMenamin of reported this week that Bryant be out for a minimum of three more weeks than previously thought:

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Friday, and it was determined the 18-year veteran will be sidelined another three weeks before being re-evaluated because of continued pain, swelling and soreness in his injured left knee.

[...] Missing three more weeks before another evaluation brings the calendar to March 14, at which point there will be only 17 games left in the regular season for the Lakers. And even if Bryant is cleared for contact drills at that point, he would assuredly need some additional practice time before he could make a return.

The question on March 14—if he's fully healthy by then—will be: What's the point? Why put Bryant on the court for the last 17 games when the team doesn't have any hope of making the postseason?

Just trotting out Bryant in a game situation where he can risk another injury and be sidelined yet again would not only be stupid, but also prove the ignorance of the Lakers.

Bryant returned to the court for a short stint earlier in the season and has been out since that time. He may be averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in six games this season, but there is no reason to take the risk for 17 games when the team could use him all next season.

Live to fight another day, Lakers. Don't put an 18-year veteran on the court again for no apparent reason.


Luol Deng to the Lakers a Possibility

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Los Angeles executives might be holding out on the biggest names during the 2015 offseason like Kevin Love, but that doesn't mean there aren't names out there that they could add to improve the roster.

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports that the Lakers are one of many teams interested in the services of Luol Deng of the Cleveland Cavaliers following the season:

We’re surprised the Cavs did not move Luol Deng. He’ll be gone on July 1, no later than a minute past midnight, and despite an Achilles injury that prevents him from practicing on most days, he’ll be high on everyone’s free-agent list.

The Mavs, Lakers, Celtics, Magic and Charlotte are all interested. Why not stay in Cleveland? Kyrie Irving doesn’t make players around him better and Dion Waiters is a me-first player.

The former Chicago Bulls player hasn't been his normal self this season—you'd be upset too if you were the source of trade rumors all year then landed in Cleveland—but he's still put up great numbers.

Averaging 17 points and three assists per game, both above his career averages, Deng might not be happy with the current situation but is making the best of it.

Though he wouldn't be joining a perfect situation in Los Angeles either, Deng would have a chance to help the team return to the playoffs. With another scoring threat on the floor and Bryant possibly back on the court, the Lakers might just need one more component to have a much better season in 2014-15.


Lakers 'Secretly Interested' in Chris Bosh

While James and Anthony are the clear stars of the upcoming free-agency market, the Lakers appear to have their eyes set on another big-name player that could test the waters.

Chris Bosh came to the Miami Heat with James to join forces with Dwyane Wade back in 2010. But if James leaves for greener pastures, Bosh might follow suit, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports:

It seems most GMs feel Bosh (and not Anthony) is the second biggest potential prize on the upcoming market. But if James goes back to the Heat, Bosh will, too. If not, the Lakers are secretly interested, sources said.

That's a pretty enticing move if it's a possibility for the Lakers.

Pau Gasol is clearly on the outs with Los Angeles after several trade rumors swirled around him and he's made his unhappiness clear with the recent play of the team, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Replacing the 7'0" Gasol with a 6'11" Bosh on the inside could be a quick fix for a team that needs star power to not only sell tickets in L.A. but also contend in the Western Conference.

Bosh has scored nearly the same amount of points per game (17.1) to Gasol (17.0) and has one block per game in comparison to Gasol's 1.5 bpg. While the rebounds are not quite there for Bosh, he's playing on a team with several other stars and could flourish with the Lakers.

It might just be a pipe dream to think that Bosh will leave the situation that he has with the Heat, but it is a possibility according to Amico, and Lakers fans could use a bit of optimism during this rough season.


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