The good news for fans of the Los Angeles Lakers is that the squad has secured an injury exception for the Ghost of Steve Nash. The bad news: Kobe is still stuck in the first stage of grief over what's bound to be an atrocious season.
First, the good news: The LA Lakers were granted a $4.85 million disabled player exception by the NBA, covering half the salary of the Ghost of Steve Nash, who managed to disappoint Laker fans even earlier than the rest of his teammates this year. Nash's career is likely over after the former All-Star injured himself
by being old picking up luggage in the offseason.
The Lakers can use the $4.85 million exception to sign or trade for a player, according to ESPN. The exception for Nash's contract comes after the Lakers secured another exception for injured rookie Julius Randle, who broke his leg in the first game of the season and will be out for the year.
The Lakers also recently lost Xavier Henry, and forward Ryan Kelly will be unavailable for the next month due to a hamstring injury.
Just who the Lakers can pick up? It's not like the season's salvation is just a player swap away. The current list of available NBA free agents is a veritable Who's Who list of "He's Still in the League?" guys, "Didn't I See Him in a Viagra Commercial?" guys, "No I Swear He Was Begging for Change" guys, and Ray Allen.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski says that the Lake Show is looking at signing forward Earl Clark to a one-year deal. Clark played 36 games for the Lakers in the 2012-2013 season, and he's averaged 4.4 points per game over five years in the NBA. So... there's that.
So it's not looking pretty, Laker fans, and that's just the good news. The bad news is that Kobe appears to have only started the Five Stages of Grief process, according to a tweet from Celtics beat writer Baxter Holmes.
Kobe on Lakers: "We're not a 3-11 team. We're not."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 25, 2014
That, Laker fans, is what we call Denial. The Lakers obviously are a 3-11 team, as evidenced by... well... their record of just three wins and 11 losses. Kobe, of course, remains ever confident in his own abilities – hoisting airballs like he was back in his rookie year – but it's hard to see this as anything other than stubborn Denial.
The Lakers are dead last among NBA teams for points allowed, 24th in assists per game, and 20th in rebounding.
If there's any consolation for Laker fans, it's that Kobe may well progress through the stages of grief pretty quickly, given his hypercompetitive edge. Right now it's Denial and Isolation – and there has been plenty of Isolation for Bryant, enough that some are wondering if his shooting is holding the team back.
After that, though, Bryant may move on to Anger, at which point we could see some truly spectacular performances from him. The truly interesting stage, though, will be Bargaining, which could see Bryant renegotiating his massive Gold Watch contract that will hamper the Lakers' chances until Bryant retires.
Just kidding, there's no way Kobe is renegotiating or going anywhere.
After that, Laker fans can expect to see Bryant slide into the penultimate stage, Depression. Most of Laker Land has already been in that stage for quite a while, so Bryant will definitely have company.
Some time around February, probably, when it becomes apparent that even a blockbuster trade can't push LA into the Playoffs in a super tough Western Conference, we could see the return of Morose Kobe Bryant, the one who once cried on the radio and begged for a trade. That may be the very pits of Depression, but there's nowhere for Kobe to go. He's already said again and again that he wants to retire a Laker, and few teams are going to be willing to spend so much money on an aging, demanding superstar with unreliable legs.
And then it will be on to Acceptance. At 3-11, the season is almost certainly a lost cause, and there's little the Lakers can hope for beyond a high enough draft pick that they don't have to trade it away to the Phoenix Suns.
[Lead image via SportsWorldNews.]