The Los Angeles Lakers are already facing rumors that Kobe Bryant could be gone by the end of the season, and now new reports have emerged that the future Hall of Famer could actually be holding back the team’s rebuilding efforts.
Kobe and the Lakers had hoped that 2014 would bring one final title run in what is the tail end of Bryant’s career. The team acquired Jeremy Lin to help fill out the backcourt and what appeared to be a healthy Kobe and Steve Nash for the first time.
But those plans fell apart quickly. Nash ended his season early with a nagging back injury and the team has stumbled to a 2-9 start, placing them dead last in the Western Conference.
Kobe has tried taking on a bigger load to drive the talent-deprived team, but some believe the Los Angeles Lakers would be better served without Bryant.
Guardian columnist Hunter Felt wrote that Kobe Bryant “might be hurting his team” by taking so many shots.
“Bryant is shooting the ball in a ‘quantity over quality’ manner, which now means he’s more likely to set individual records good (Bryant’s aiming to surpass some guy named Michael Jordan on the all-time points list) and bad (Bryant has broken the NBA record for all-time missed field goals) than lead to victories.
It’s not a coincidence that the Lakers’ second victory of the season was more of a group effort, with offseason cast-offs Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin scoring 20 and 15 respectively, along with Bryant’s 28 points (on a much more acceptable 18 field goal attempts). Despite his protestations that he’s shooting so often because it gives his woeful team the only chance it has – he’s on the record as saying: “If you think I want to shoot this many times and be as aggressive at 36 years old, you’re freaking crazy” – it may finally be time for Bryant to start deferring, at least a little bit, to his teammates. Even if those teammates happen to be Boozer and Lin.
Other insiders believe the Los Angeles Lakers will trade Kobe Bryant before the end of the season, making room for up-and-coming talent like Nick Young, who recently returned from injury. With the playoffs already slipping out of the picture, many say Kobe could be moved sooner rather than later.