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Lakers Rumors: Buzz from Los Angeles on Kobe Bryant, Potential Trade and More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant watches from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Indianapolis. The Pacers won 110-91. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers may not win a lot of games during the 2014-15 season, but they are always in the news. 

Whether it is Kobe Bryant achieving a career milestone, Nick Young amusing fans with a series of ill-advised jumpers or something else, the Lakers are always going to move the needle. It should come as no surprise then that Los Angeles has been the focus of some recent rumors from around the Association.

With that in mind, here is a look at the latest whispers from the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant’s Future

Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News passed along an update on Bryant’s future: “Bryant remained noncommittal last week. But he’s remained adamant as of this past summer that he would not play beyond his current contract, according to a source familiar with Bryant’s thinking.”

This rumor regarding Bryant’s long-term playing plans is particularly interesting given what Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant recently said, via Sam Amick of USA Today: "I want to play with a winner every single night, especially somebody who wants to win that bad, who works that hard, who demands a lot, who raises up your level. I'd want to play with a guy like that every day.”

Before even suggesting the possibility that Durant could go to Los Angeles as a free agent in the summer of 2016 to actually play with Bryant if the Lakers star decides to extend his playing career, it is important to note that Durant was simply defending Bryant against accusations that players do not want to play with him.

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So take any suggestion that Durant is going to be a Laker in 2016 with the appropriate grain of salt, especially since this rumor from Medina suggests Bryant will be looking at retirement after his contract runs out following the 2015-16 season.

However, Durant’s quote sheds light on an encouraging idea for Lakers fans. If the defending MVP would love to play with Bryant, there are surely other players who would be fond of the idea, including perhaps future free agents like Marc Gasol, Rajon Rondo or even Kevin Love.

This is surely a lost season for the Lakers, but they will have some cap space this offseason. Bryant, who is still third in the league in points per game despite the sheer amount of NBA miles on his legs, is apparently not the hindrance that many assumed he would be when it comes to elite players deciding whether they want to play in Los Angeles or not.

Keep that in mind this offseason.

Roscoe Smith

EL SEGUNDO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roscoe Smith #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for a portrait during the Los Angeles Lakers Media Day at the Toyota Sports Center on September 29, 2014 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Shams Charania of RealGM passed along the latest on Roscoe Smith’s potential role with the Lakers: “The Lakers have been deliberate in deciding which wing player to sign onto the roster, continuing to closely monitor forward Roscoe Smith out of their D-League affiliate in Los Angeles, league sources said.”

Charania’s report also discussed Quincy Miller and his decision to sign a contract in the NBA Development League after working out with Los Angeles.

Smith, who played for both Connecticut and UNLV in college, participated in seven preseason games for the Lakers. The team retained his NBA D-League rights as a result.

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Someone like Smith is certainly not going to turn the season around for the Lakers, but he was a double-double threat every time he stepped on the floor at UNLV and, as a 6'8" stretch forward, would provide length and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball.

If nothing else, Smith could be another body off the bench for a team that already lost Julius Randle and Steve Nash for the season with injuries.

Potential Trade with Nets?

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 13:  Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Time Warner Cable Arena on December 13, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Kent Smith/Getty Images

Chad Ford of ESPN.com responded to the notion that some teams, including the Lakers, could be interested in trading for one or more of the veterans on the Brooklyn Nets, such as Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez or Deron Williams:

I think it's going to be a very, very tough sell. The two teams that are obvious choices are the Lakers and Knicks. But I can't imagine the Knicks wanting to swap with their cross town rivals, and even if they did, sources say the Knicks aren't going to do anything to damage their upcoming cap space next year unless they land an All-Star caliber talent. So they're out.

With Ford’s sources suggesting the Knicks will not be involved in trade talks with the Nets, the Lakers seem to be the next team up in that scenario.

Still, it would not make much sense for the Lakers to trade for a short-term veteran fix considering their position. This season is a lost cause in terms of contending for a title, and the only way Los Angeles will get its first-round pick in the upcoming draft is if it falls in the top five.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach Byron Scott, of the Los Angeles Lakers, watches play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on December 12, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas. Los Angeles won 1
Darren Abate/Getty Images

Swapping for a player like Williams could boost Los Angeles’ win total just enough to dampen its chances at landing a pick in the top five without the potential of a playoff spot this season as a counterbalancing reward.

What’s more, the Lakers likely want some cap room this offseason to pursue free agents to play alongside Bryant. The best way to do that is by not adding any more significant contracts just to get a few more meaningless wins this season.

All the losing may not be enjoyable for Lakers fans, but it could pay off in the long run with a favorable draft pick and a revamped roster next season.

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