Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers Entering Uncharted Crossroads Together

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers have been joined at the hip for 19 years. But the legendary superstar and his team are now in an uncertain crossroads, and nobody really knows what comes next.

Bryant recently underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and is expected to return in time for training camp in the fall.

And the only thing we can predict with any real confidence? The need for important pieces to be added to the puzzle for any chance of future success.

Speaking to the press after Bryant’s successful procedure, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak recited the stock litany of reassurances.

“He’s in great spirits,” said Kupchak, via the Lakers official site. “The surgery went really well, and he’s excited about the prognosis, which is to be ready for training camp. So that’s a good thing, but we’ve lost a great, great player for the rest of the year.”

When asked about the keys for getting the veteran guard through his 20th season in terms of fatigue and avoiding further injury, Kupchak spoke about the need to improve the team, adding:

As you get older and you experience injuries in this league—and he will have played for 20 years—it’s difficult to play when you’re going to lose three or four games, or five games. When you’re winning games it’s a lot easier to get ready to play, and play through aches and pains. So to me, a big part of Kobe’s contribution next season is if we can improve the team.

This isn’t a new speech, however—Lakers management has been promising improvement for years. And while regeneration hasn’t manifested itself in wins as of late, it’s not for a lack of trying.

Kupchak will never telegraph major moves in public. But he is known for swinging for the fences every few years in ...

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