Top 5 Pairings for Kobe Bryant Via 2014 Free Agency Class
It’s no secret amongst NBA fans that next year’s free agent class has the potential to be a very loaded class, filled with many youngster studs, current top-notch players and savvy veterans all with one ultimate goal on their minds: to win an NBA championship.
With this being said, one of the reasons why the Lakers will have so much money to spend is because one of their all-time greats, Kobe Bryant, is set to become a free agent following the completion of this upcoming season.
The chances of Bryant leaving the Lakers are about as high as the chances that I have of playing an NBA game during any point of my life.
If Bryant agrees to take a pay cut, which is a reasonable expectation considering his age and desire to celebrate another championship victory, the Lakers should have enough money to sign two additional superstars.
The combinations of players the Lakers could sign during the 2014 offseason are endless; however, I have come up with a list of combinations that I think would make the most sense for the Lakers.
Note: I made sure to not use any player twice on this list and I did not use any players who are virtual locks to stay with the current teams, e.g. Tim Duncan, Paul George and a few others.
5. Luol Deng and Anderson Varejao
Probably the least talented duo of players on this list (hence, why the check in at number five), however, they are probably the hardest working duo and one that has continued to improve on a yearly basis since they’ve entered the league.
Although very injury prone, Varejao put up some very good numbers in limited action last year. He only played 25 games, but he managed to average career highs of 14.1 points per game, 14.4 rebounds per game, 3.4 assists per game and 1.5 steal per game.
When healthy, he provides his team with a lot of energy and defensive activity in addition to an improved offensive game.
Similarly, Deng is a very good defender and a very active player; however, he also possesses an above average offensive skill set, as he is a good passer and an effective shooter.
Even if they were to team up with Kobe Bryant, it’d be hard to see this “Big Three” leading the Lakers to a championship, but it definitely wouldn’t be impossible for them to accomplish.
If anything, they’d be a near-sure lock for the playoffs and it’d be guaranteed that they’d leave every ounce of energy they have on the floor.
4. Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce
Sure, both of these players are definitely past their prime years, but you’d be a fool to believe they still can’t contribute at a high level.
Both Pierce’s career and Nowitzki’s career are slowly coming to an end, and I’m sure both of them would like nothing more than to win a championship before they retire.
Similarly, Bryant will not be playing in the NBA forever, and he’d undoubtedly like to win one more championship, preferably two, in an effort to at least match another all-time great known as Michael Jordan in terms of championship rings.
Instead of trying to win that championship trophy on separate teams, wouldn’t it be a smarter idea for the three of them to get together and try to accomplish this feat?
Heck, everyone else is doing so, why shouldn’t they?
The Dallas Mavericks are and most likely will be stuck in mediocrity over the next upcoming seasons and it might take the Brooklyn Nets a few years before some of their players develop enough chemistry to compete for a championship, so it’d be in both of their best interests to join Bryant in Los Angeles (not to mention Steve Nash) and compete for the title there.
3. Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh
This pairing, in my opinion, would be one of the most interesting ones on the list. Both of these players have very similar styles of play yet they’d complement one another very well.
Both Bosh and Gasol are capable of playing power forward and center. They definitely have nice post games, yet both can extend and hit the mid-range jumper very efficiently. In addition, both have good first steps and run the floor very well, not to mention that they are both good rebounders.
It’s hard not to see Gasol wanting to come back to the Lakers after this season, but why would Bosh want to come to the Lakers?
After all, he’ll be scheduled to make over $20 million per year for the following two seasons after the 2013-14 season, so why would he not exercise his team option to stay with the Heat?
2. DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe
A questionable pair to team up with Bryant? Maybe!
Both players are very young and talented with a lot of potential. This upcoming season will be huge for both of these players as they try to prove to the entire league that they are not just stars, but that they are superstars!
Clearly, both of these players have had very similar careers throughout the first three years in the NBA. Next year, their respective teams will be able to match any offer another teams make for them.
The big question is: will they want to join Bryant and the Lakers?
Will matching what is most likely to be a maximum offer sheet for another power forward/center really be worth it for the Pistons?
The Sacramento Kings have no clear direction towards which they are heading. Cousins is definitely their best player, but his attitude has stopped the Kings from building around him, and it may be what prevents the team from matching a maximum offer sheet made by another team for him.
The Lakers have never been a team to shy away from the spotlight, and bringing these two players in would definitely put them in the spotlight.
However, I think it would be a wise move by the Lakers, as both of these players are very good scorers, rebounders and exceptionally good passers considering the positions they play.
One may argue that both of these players are center and that their games are way too similar; however, Monroe could definitely be used as a power forward and as for the similarities, they’d find a way to make things work.
It would just be too entertaining to watch just how good these two can be as teammates, especially with Kobe Bryant playing alongside them.
1. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
A possibility? Yes!
A strong possibility? Absolutely not!
But how awesome would this be for Lakers fans?
I’m pretty sure that Bryant wouldn’t mind taking a sizable pay cut and sharing some jump shots with last year’s scoring champion and the top basketball player of this generation if the best possible opportunity for him to win another championship were to come along.
Something absolutely drastic will have to happen for James to leave the state of Florida for the state of California. It is a possibility, though, if he decides that his championship window in Miami is closing, as Wade is not getting any younger and probably not getting any healthier either, and teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers have continued to improve year after year, and will be legitimate threats for a Miami Heat three-peat.
Anthony’s situation is New York is a little different than James’ situation in Miami. His team has not enjoyed nearly the same success as James’ Miami Heat, and he may be more willing to move to Los Angeles than James. The fact that him and Bryant are good friends doesn’t hurt Los Angeles’ chances of landing his services either.
The bottom line: if James and Anthony team up with Bryant after this upcoming season, they’d have the potential to break the record for most wins in one season by an NBA team.