Kobe Bryant was clearly frustrated when talking to reporters on Wednesday. With news of his left knee injury keeping him out the remainder of the season, Bryant unloaded his thoughts, saying he wanted the Lakers to return to prominence as early as the 2014-15 NBA season.
Bryant has been out since Dec. 17 with a fractured lateral tibial plateau he suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the Lakers have been plummeting toward the bottom of the Western Conference with a record of just 22-42, tying them with the lowly Sacramento Kings:
Kobe says that he has no patience for the Lakers front office to take another year to build a contender. He expects changes this summer.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 12, 2014
Kobe says he expects huge things from Lakers' front office going forward. Says he has "not one lick" of patience for future.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) March 12, 2014
Kobe leaves us with "see you next year" Aint that the truth.— Beto Duran (@DuranSports) March 12, 2014
Kobe Bryant's priority/preference is to go all in THIS summer. Not willing to wait another year.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 12, 2014
Los Angeles has its own first-round choice in this year's upcoming draft, which features top prospects Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle. However, outside of a top pick, the Lakers' cupboards are bare moving forward.
Pau Gasol's $19 million comes off the books this summer, and there's a possibility that Steve Nash could be waived using the rare stretch provision, freeing up even more cap space. But Bryant, 34, just signed a two-year extension worth $48.5 million, effectively clogging one of the max roster spots for L.A. As it stands today, the Lakers have $23.5 million of their $35.3 million cap figure dedicated to Bryant in 2014-15, according to HoopsHype.com.
Even adding a top-flight prospect, the Lakers will need to use their cap to fill out what amounts to nearly an entire roster with an estimated $20 million remaining before they hit their cap. Financial finagling aside, it is unlikely the Lakers would be able to field a championship-level roster with that amount of cap space in a single year, let alone solely from free agents.
For Bryant, frustration with the Buss family -- Jim and Jeanie -- has mounted in what appears to be his perception of the roster being mismanaged around him, telling Serena Winters of Lakers Nation, "You gotta start with Jim. You gotta start with Jim and Jeanie and how that all relationship plays out."
Kobe: I expect the Lakers to make serious moves in the offseason Lakers: [trade Kobe to Bobcats for draft picks] Kobe: See what I meant was— Ethan Booker (@Ethan_Booker) March 12, 2014