The Los Angeles Lakers, at one point, seemed close to shuttling Jeremy Lin out of town, but in the wake of the potentially career-ending injury to Kobe Bryant, the guard may be poised to take a much larger role with the team.
Bryant was ruled out the remainder of the season after tearing his rotator cuff. Though the 36-year-old guard was still able to carry the team this season when healthy, this will now be his second devastating injury in the span of the last two seasons, leading many to believe that he will retire for good.
As USA Today noted, Kobe Bryant may have already been leaning toward retirement even before the injury.
“A week before the right-handed Bryant was sinking left-handed jumpshots against the New Orleans Pelicans because of the injury that had yet to be diagnosed, he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times after a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that the thoughts of retirement after this season were already creeping into his mind. Such admissions have become more common in this later stage of Bryant’s days, the man with the legendary edge and ego becoming open and honest about himself in ways we never saw in his younger years.”
But some see opportunity in the messy Kobe Bryant situation. The Lakers were already mired at the bottom of the Western Conference, even with Kobe healthy, so his loss will not mean too much in terms of the season.
The situation may also give the Los Angeles Lakers a chance to see exactly what Jeremy Lin can do as a leader of the team. Though effective in stretches, Lin has struggled to gain minutes and was even benched in favor of veteran Ronnie Price. There were even rumors that the team may be putting Lin on the trade block.
But as Rant Sports writer Pablo Jacobo noted, Kobe’s injury gives the Lakers the perfect chance to take the reins off Lin.
“The time has come for the Laker organization to let Lin run the team. At this point, they have nothing to lose – this roster is not talented enough to win many games.”
“With Bryant out of the picture, Lin is free play to play his style of basketball. He’s still 26 years old and could still be of use to the organization. He burst onto the scene with the New York Knicks three years ago, and he had a fantastic stretch of games that electrified Madison Square Garden.”
If the rumors are true, the Los Angeles Lakers could see a drastic difference in Jeremy Lin. He has already stepped up in Kobe Bryant’s absence before, playing more aggressively to compensate. Lin is also in one of the best shooting years of his career, hitting 43 percent of his shots — including a career-best 36 percent from three. If nothing else, the Lakers could increase Lin’s trade value by showcasing him to teams closer to title contention.