While the day Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant retires is far off, that day will come. And, while it seems like all the greats can play forever, the fact is that even the best of the best—Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and even Michael Jordan—one day hang them up.
Sad and possibly cold as it may seem, Kobe Bryant will also walk away from the game he loves. And, with the way he trains and prepares, that day is a few years off. However, as all the talk of Kobe aging circulates, it does beg the question:
When Kobe retires, who will the Lakers center their franchise around?
It’s a solid question. The Lakers and their owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, settle for nothing less than for the franchise to compete for championships.
This team isn’t about making the playoffs. So, don’t expect the Lakers to fall to the bottom of the standings when Kobe finally takes off his Black Mamba shoes.
Now, bear with me and let’s act like there won’t be a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) this summer (which could change everything like going over the salary cap, a hard cap a la the NFL and even a reduction in the total cap for each team). All these factors would adversely affect LA and what it can do.
But, think of it this way. There’s a lot of money being paid out to Kobe, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, etc. that would be freed up when they retire. In theory, all the Lakers would have on the books would be younger players like Shannon Brown and Andrew Bynum. That gives LA lots of dough to sign free agents.
But who is either on the team to groom, or out there to bring in, that the team could build around to create another Laker dynasty?
Let’s take a look at some possibilities.