Lakers News: Latest on Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and More

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Lakers News: Latest on Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and More
Danny Johnston/Associated Press

This will likely be a big offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers, as one of the NBA's most storied franchises won't sit back and suffer a disappointing season for the second year in a row.

Expect some changes.

They already had a good start to the offseason by adding Julius Randle in the 2014 NBA draft, but that won't be the only addition made. The Lakers will definitely be players in free agency and the trade market.

We've already been given a bit of information as to what this team might look like in 2014-15. Kobe Bryant will, of course, be back, but what about a couple other players who have made news in the past few days?

Read more below to find out.

 

Kobe Bryant

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

The Black Mamba played just six games last season, averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game. A torn Achilles and fractured knee in his left leg kept him on the sidelines for basically the entire year, and his absence was a big part of the problem.

General manager Mitch Kupchak says that Bryant is now fine, however, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:

"Kobe is fine. Obviously, he has to prove that. But he's been in here working out, and you wouldn't know [he was hurt]. He looks great. He has to perform at a level next year to prove that, but he looks great."

The face of the purple and gold is currently vacationing in Greece, so his current focus is not on the court. That said, Lakers fans can rest assured that Bryant will be ready and focused for training camp when it comes time.

Aside from being a main contributor next season, Bryant will serve an important role in the future of the franchise. Randle is going to rely on Bryant for guidance and knowledge, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders tweeted:

Bryant is the face of this franchise, and having him on the court next season is going to work wonders for the team. Even though the team still doesn't have a coach or a clear direction this offseason, Bryant and Kupchak will certainly look to bring in the best talent possible.

 

Steve Nash

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Steve Nash might be more of a hindrance than a help at this point in his career, especially when you consider his salary.

The 40-year-old will make $9.7 million next season, and that money can be better allocated to top-of-the-line free agents. Adding more cap space is certainly a must to attract big names to Los Angeles. If Kupchak has his way, he might have two more big stars in the fold next year, as reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard:

Nash is well aware that his contract might impede the Lakers from making moves. He told Chris Branch of the Huffington Post that it would make sense for the team to trade him: "If the opportunity came for them to package where they could get something for the future, that makes a lot of sense for them."

The Lakers might have to eat a little bit of this salary to make a move, as not many teams will want to pay almost $10 million for an aging point guard with diminished skills and a recent history of injuries. He played in just 15 games last season and 50 in 2012-13.

Perhaps a team with a young point guard might be willing to take a shot on Nash. This would put the veteran in a mentor's role rather than a leader's role. This is a possible story to follow this offseason.

 

Ryan Kelly

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Lakers have made Ryan Kelly a restricted free agent:

After the All-Star break last season, Kelly was a solid contributor on a team that lacked scoring punch. He dropped 8.0 points in 22.2 minutes per game over the course of the full season. He shot 33.8 percent from deep in the process.

This was crucial for the Lakers, as his status as a power forward forced defenses to step out to the perimeter to guard him. This opened lanes for perimeter guys like Nick Young and Kendall Marshall to drive to the rim.

Kelly is a very useful role player, and the Lakers might not want to let him walk. As a restricted free agent, they hold the right to match any offer made on the 23-year-old.

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

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