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Lakers News: Latest on Carlos Boozer's Benching, Kobe Bryant's Future and More

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIDecember 9, 2014

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 5: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Boston Celtics on December 5, 2014 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau /NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Storylines surrounding the 5-16 Los Angeles Lakers seem endless. They're dealing with injuries, they can't play defense, they're aging, they're not properly coached—you name it, and the narrative probably exists.

Of course, with so many subplots circulating around the troubled franchise, we're never in any kind of shortage in the news department. Following the team's 104-87 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night, more intriguing buzz surfaced.

So, what do the trusted sources around the Web have to say about the team this time around? The latest rumblings may surprise you.

Carlos Boozer Benched

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

We've heard head coach Byron Scott talk about the team's inability to play effective defense this season. The coach has singled Carlos Boozer out on more than one occasion. Well, following another lackluster effort on that end of the court, Scott opted for a change up front.

The coach decided to go with forward Ed Davis in place of Boozer, and that may not have been a terrible decision considering Davis is one of just two active Lakers (the other is Robert Sacre) who have positive ratings on ESPN's defensive real plus-minus list.

According to Kobe Bryant, the defense employed by Scott isn't all that hard to learn, via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation:

Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA

Kobe Bryant on the defense Byron Scott is trying to be teach: “Honestly it’s not very complicated.”

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However, apparently Boozer just isn't grasping it. As you can imagine, he's not overly thrilled with the coach's decision, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

"Obviously it was a surprise. I didn't expect that, but if helps our team win, I'm a team player," Boozer said. "If it helps our team, then that's what it's going to be... I'm sure Byron's trying to figure out a way for us to win games. That's just his opinion.  I have a different opinion.  I'll keep it to myself."

This is the first time the veteran will come off the bench in his 13-year career. We should expect some growing pains as he makes the transition.

Kobe Bryant's Future

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

We all knew Bryant wouldn't play forever—even though many of us hoped he would. That said, it was never a certainty when the NBA legend would call it quits. It was easy to speculate it would be sooner rather than later, as he's now 36 years of age, but that's all it was—speculation. Well, now we have a number—Bryant is expected to retire in two years.

During an interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com, general manager Mitch Kupchak broke the news: "All indications are, to me, from him, that this (two-year contract) is going to be it. If somebody's thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that. Don't wait. Do it this year."

There was talk earlier this season about Bryant leaving the struggling Lakers and chasing a championship once again. Of course, he shot down that talk quickly, and after news of a potential end to his career surfaced, he did so again, via Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:

KEVIN DING @KevinDing

Kobe on the Lakers: "If this was the Titanic, I'd go down with the ship. I'm not jumping off."

That's some great news for Lakers fans, as watching Bryant end his career in a different jersey would probably look just as strange as when Michael Jordan donned Washington Wizards apparel for two years—it just didn't seem right.

Speaking of Jordan, Bryant has another record to eclipse before his storied career comes to an end, via Ding:

KEVIN DING @KevinDing

Kobe, 63 points behind Michael in scoring, is now on pace to pass him Sunday in Minnesota, not Friday in San Antonio.

Bryant has taken more of a mentor role with his younger teammates this season, so even when he's done playing professional basketball, his effect on the court in Los Angeles will continue.

Hardship Exception

Apr 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly (4) dribbles around Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

As we know, the Lakers have suffered numerous injuries throughout the season. Rookie Julius Randle was lost with a broken leg, Steve Nash was lost due to ongoing issues with his back, Xavier Henry's season ended due to a torn Achilles tendon and Ryan Kelly can't stay on the court due to nagging hamstring issues.

Well, the NBA decided to compensate the team for those injuries, granting the Lakers a hardship exception that would allow them to increase their roster size to 16 players. After several workouts took place in Los Angeles, the team seemed poised to add someone—but it didn't.

The exception expired, but there appears to be a good enough reason why the team didn't use it. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times tweeted the team would have to go back to 15 players upon the return of Kelly:

Mike Bresnahan @Mike_Bresnahan

Lakers can ask NBA again for hardship waiver if they wanted. Not sensing momentum for that. They'd have to go back to 15 when Kelly returns.

According to a report from Pincus and Bresnahan, "The second-year forward is roughly three to four weeks away. He was seen jogging Sunday on an anti-gravity treadmill that lowered impact on his body at the team's practice facility."

If the Lakers think they can get by without an extra player in the meantime, there's no reason to use the exception. Although, they should be crossing their fingers that the injury bug doesn't rear its ugly head while they wait.

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