LA Lakers Need ‘100 Percent’ Kobe Bryant to Last Beyond Next Season

Los Angeles Lakers future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant says he’s “100 percent” following an injury-riddled 2013-14 campaign, per an interview from Brazil where the Black Mamba is attending the World Cup (h/t Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver).

That’s great news if you’re a Lakers fan. However, even if Bryant returns to an All-Star-caliber level after playing a career-low six regular-season games, L.A. needs its 2-guard to maintain competitive performance beyond 2014-15.

Seeing Lakerland contend for yet another championship one year after finishing 27-55—its worst mark in more than half a century—isn’t realistic.

L.A. only has Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre on guaranteed contracts. It has to decide what to do with 11 players set to hit free agency, while also determining what man will replace Mike D’Antoni as head coach.

With all that uncertainty, merely climbing out of the Western Conference cellar is a good starting point as far as expectations are concerned.

Love him or hate him, Bryant makes the NBA a more captivating place when he’s on the court. He’s aiming to attain a sixth championship ring, and while the Lakers’ success is dependent upon his resurgence, Bryant’s health and wellness entering 2015-16 is a bigger subplot.


Lack of Immediate Options

The Lakers have no easy answers in terms of securing title contention during the 2014 offseason. Short of flying out of left field like a crazed streaker and inking LeBron James in free agency as a true dark-horse candidate, L.A. will be in a dogfight to nab a playoff seed.

At this juncture, the Western Conference is simply too loaded.

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