Kobe has one year remaining on his current deal, expected to be his last…
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has insisted that the franchise will not bring in veterans to help with a ‘win now’ mode in Kobe Bryant’s last year.
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Bryant will enter the final year of his contract next season and has insisted that he would love to have one final attempt at winning a championship if the organisation can construct a competitive roster.
With significant salary cap space to acquire free agents, the Lakers are expected to make moves in the market this summer but Kupchak is adamant that they will make moves that benefit them in the long run and not just for next year.
“At some point we have to start a new run, and that’s definitely going to include Kobe next year,” he said, according to ESPN.
“To jeopardize the next five or seven years … [by bringing] in old veterans that make a lot of money, just to win one more year, because that’s Kobe’s last year or could be his last year, I’m not sure that fits into doing it the right way.
“We’re going to look to do this the right way, which is to try to make prudent decisions about youth and veterans and making commitments to players under the existing rules. I’d love to be able to put together a young team that can win 55 games next year, but it’s not that easy. It’s just not that easy. It’s not off the table. It’s our goal, but we want to make sure we do it the right way.”
The Lakers have been linked with an offer for Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic, but given that the Slovenian ace has just arrived at the AA Arena coupled with the Heat’s ability to offer him more money at the end of the season, he could be difficult to prise away.
Nevertheless, Lakers fans should be reassured by Kupchak’s comments as although sentimentality would love to see Kobe go out on a wave of success, they must prioritise what is best for them as a whole when he is no longer there.
Given that he has also seen his last three seasons end prematurely due to injury, there is no guarantee that he would play a consistent role in their push next year and so the focus must be on building for the long-term future.