Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak delivered a strong repost to free agents who perhaps don’t want to move to LA because of Kobe Bryant.
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A report last year suggested that certain players had been put off the possibility of playing in Los Angeles due to the fact that they would be alongside the 37-year-old.
While others have since come out and dismissed that notion, it still remains an argument that the Lakers have struggled in part to the fact that the veteran still commands a significant amount of power and influence.
Bryant is expected to retire at the end of next season, and Kupchak insists that the organisation don’t even want those players who are turning down the chance to play at the Staples Center next season because of the veteran guard.
“I think it is clear. He’s on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn’t indicated that he wants to continue to play,” Kupchak said, according to ESPN.
“But if there is a player out there like that, that won’t come here for that reason, then we don’t want them. Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don’t want to play for a guy like him that’s driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn’t be here. You should go someplace else.”
The Lakers have undoubtedly had their issues in recent years with Dwight Howard coming and going while Steve Nash was never able to get over his injury curse and play an influential role for the team.
Along with Pau Gasol leaving and Julius Randle suffering an injury in his NBA debut, it has seemingly been one problem after another for the storied franchise.
However, they have an opportunity to build for the future this summer with the No.2 pick in the NBA Draft 2015 along with significant salary cap space to sign talented free agents to boost their roster ready for a playoff push next season.