Much of the talk of the off-season is how the Los Angeles Lakers will eventually rebuild or reload—sooner than later. After all, this is the franchise that historically have drawn top free agents and lured the big-name superstars to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. According to the Los Angeles front office, however, that may not be happening in 2014 in time for the LeBron James sweepstakes.
"Within the organization there isn't a single person that believes we can bring LeBron aboard," said a front office executive to Henry Abbot of ESPN.COM.
The acquisition of LeBron James, or for that matter any superstar who will demand max salary, will be a difficult one for the Lakers come the 2014 offseason.
Lakers franchise player Kobe Bryant needs to take a pay cut to make room for another maximum salary player. According to hoopshype.com, Bryant will earn roughly $30M in the 2013-2014 season. With the team’s salary cap estimated at around $60M for the 2014-15 season, Bryant will get roughly half of the team’s budget.
It is also worth noting that only Steve Nash will be under a significant contract in the 2014-15 season, and the Canadian point guard is set to be paid $9.7M. This means that other Lakers core players like Pau Gasol ($19.2M), Steve Blake ($4M), Jordan Hill ($3.5M) and Chris Kaman ($3.1M) will all have expiring contracts by 2014.
Another reason why LeBron to L.A. is improbable is the fact that Kobe believes the Lakers are his team. Do players consider playing alongside Bryant a difficult proposition? Top centers Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard either got traded or signed elsewhere apparently because of Kobe’s attitude.
"The Lakers are Kobe. You have to understand that. It's not the organization for you if you want the ball or the spotlight. All that glitters ain't gold,” said another unnamed agent in the same article by Abbot.
The 2014 free agent class is a very deep one. Aside from LeBron, the likes of Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade; Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets); Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks); Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors); Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers); Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies); and Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), among others, will look for new contracts.
There is, of course, one option the L.A. front office can consider: Let go of Kobe Bryant and then look for their replacement franchise player. Question is, do they have the guts to release the face of the franchise for the last decade or so?