Is Kobe Bryant’s Contract Helping or Hurting the Los Angeles Lakers’ Future?

If you needed another indication that Kobe Bryant and his $48.5 million contract affect everything about the Los Angeles Lakers, all you have to do is consult the team's most recent transaction: a post-amnesty signing of Carlos Boozer.

Per ESPN's Marc Stein, LA landed the former Chicago Bulls big man on Thursday:

We can examine the Boozer signing independent of Bryant and his deal. We can say it's an affordable price for a guy whose hefty contract (Boozer will collect over $16 million this year, most of which will be be paid by Chicago) probably made him an unfair target for critics.

He's basically an average NBA player these days, something his 14.4 player efficiency rating from last year, per, corroborates. Boozer is far removed from his days of 20-10 studliness and All-Star invites as a member of the Utah Jazz.

Now, he's a horrible paint-protector whose offensive efficiency fell through the floor in 2013-14.

But hey, he came cheap!

That's one way to look at the Lakers' latest move, but it feels incomplete.

When we introduce the complicating factors of Bryant and his massive extension, we get an explanation as to why LA would bring in a nearly washed-up veteran who'll block the development of the team's two most promising young pieces: Julius Randle and Ed Davis.

The Lakers simply can't rebuild around their youth because Bryant won't stand for it.

“I’ve never had patience. I’m not going to start now," Bryant said to reporters at a press conference this week, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.

And back in March, he told ESPN's Darren Rovell: "We might have had the worst season ever, or could have the worst season ever for a Lakers team. But now let's have the greatest comeback that the league has ever seen."

Bryant wants to compete now, and whether that desire mer...

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