League insiders seem to think Kobe Bryant is not worth the trouble for the Lakers.
Derick E. Hingle/Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has always been a polarizing figure, but it seems the public opinion regarding him — at least in NBA circles — is tilting more towards the negative end of the spectrum.
According to a report by ESPN.com, only one of the 24 "league insiders" — team executives, agents, scouts, etc. — who were surveyed for the article believe it’s in the Lakers’ best interest to "definitely" bring Bryant back next season.
Among the remaining 23 insiders, 13 of them said the team should move on from Bryant regardless of whether he retires or not. The remaining 10 insiders said Bryant’s health should dictate the team’s decision, and if they choose to bring him back, it should be for a lot less money and a reduced role.
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However, would Bryant accept that? Would he move into the final years of his career like Vince Carter and Paul Pierce have — as productive role players?
Could the Lakers afford to do that to Bryant given how much he’s worth to the team financially and how much fans adore him? Would there be backlash? How would fans react?
"They’ve created a monster there," one executive said in the report, "and it’s hard to get out of it until he actually goes away."
At this point, Bryant is such a Laker legend that it’s nearly impossible to imagine him wearing any other colors. That means that Bryant is either retiring on his terms or playing for the Lakers next season.
If the team lowballs an offer to him, or reduces his role without his approval, there’s always the chance he is forced to retire and leaves things with the team on an ugly note. But the Lakers are too loyal of a franchise to do such a thing.
They are going to ride with Bryant until he’s done playing basketball, for better or worse. Lately it’s been for worse, but that’s the choice they seem willing to live with.