The Los Angeles Lakers are having one of the most interesting and exciting—although not particularly fruitful—offseasons in the league.
It’s been a non-stop whirlwind of free-agency defections and additions, amnesty clauses, injury rehabilitation, rumors and much more.
Let’s take a look at the latest news and more concerning the Purple and Gold in Wednesday’s Lakers roundup.
Kobe Bryant On the Mend
Despite the responsibilities that come along with the rehabilitation of an Achilles injury, the Black Mamba has been increasing his exposure by touring Asia and the Pacific this offseason.
While many players would rest on their laurels and relax on their summer vacation in various foreign countries, Bryant has instead decided to take a training staff with him and pull double-duty by paying equal attention to his legion of fans and recovering in time for the 2013-14 campaign.
According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Bryant has told reporters that he “shattered” the timetable for a normal return from a torn Achilles tendon and has trainers following him “everywhere,” including family vacations and business trips.
This is great news for Lakers fans, as they recently learned that their team would have 29 national television appearances during the upcoming season.
If Bryant isn’t able to get on the floor, the club figures to be in trouble and will have to endure a dismal season in the spotlight. However, as long as the Mamba is back and healthy, anything is possible.
LeBron James Not Talking About Free Agency
After winning back-to-back championships and going to three straight NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, it’s a bit understandable that King James isn’t talking about his impending opportunity to jump ship and join another franchise, such as the Lakers, next summer.
Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that out when James was bluntly asked about his plans for the summer of 2014, when he can opt out of his current contract and ink a new deal.
His answer was simple: “It’s too early.”
James then elaborated, making it clear that a three-peat is the only thing on his mind at this juncture:
I will get to a point where I have to cross that but I haven't really thought about it… I owe it to myself and I owe it to my teammates and the franchise, to stay focused and understand what I'm there to do. I'm there to win a championship and not talk about free agency.
The Lakers are just one of the many suitors expected to arise if and when the four-time MVP hits the open market, with team brass hoping to coax the league’s best player to L.A. with promises of rings, glory and more.
However, until the Heat get eliminated from the playoffs, James is right—it’s too early to talk about his free agency.
Dwight Howard Trade Exception Expires
After giving up a handful of assets to acquire Dwight Howard last summer, including All-Star center Andrew Bynum and a first-round pick, the Los Angeles Lakers officially have nothing to show for it.
According to Pincus, L.A.’s $1.3 million trade exception—acquired via dealing Christian Eyenga to the Orlando Magic in the D12 megatrade—expired exactly one year after the transaction was consummated.
The Lakers brass had until Monday to use that exception to absorb up to $1.3 million more salary in a lopsided trade—not including the $100,000 buffer that is always allowed by the league—but elected not to.
By not re-signing Howard, cutting Chris Duhon and letting Earl Clark walk away, the Lakers are left with absolutely nothing to show from the blockbuster trade that was supposed to help bring another championship to Tinseltown.
It was a tough year, but at least the Howard trade—minus the 2015 second-rounder and 2017 first-rounder owed to Orlando—is squarely in the rearview mirror and the Lakers can concentrate on the future.