NBA Free Agency Rumor: Raja Bell Used LA Lakers As Leverage for Utah Jazz Offer

John HaverfordContributor IJuly 15, 2010

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 15:  Raja Bell #19 of the Utah Jazz puts a shot up over Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers on February 15, 2005 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

When veteran guard Raja Bell refuted that he had rejected a contract offer by the Los Angeles Lakers, he failed to mention how he did not meet the contract deadline set by the Lakers' front office.

The Los Angeles Lakers had originally given Bell a Friday night, July 9 deadline to sign the $1.8 million contract, but the veteran guard wanted more time to explore his options, including a potential deal with the Miami Heat should Mike Miller not have signed there.

When midnight passed on July 9, Bell's agent told the Lakers' organization that Bell was not ready to accept the contract and would need more time.

Although Bell did not accept the $1.8 million offer by the midnight deadline, the Lakers still had strong interest in Raja Bell, to the extent that Finals MVP Kobe Bryant came out to publicly recruit Bell just days later.

Despite being endorsed by Kobe Bryant, Raja Bell decided not to even meet the five-time NBA champion, and quickly signed with the Utah Jazz for a three-year, $10 million contract.

The general sentiment within the Lakers' front office is that Raja Bell simply used the Lakers as leverage to secure a promising contract from another team.