Lakers Rumors: L.A. Needs More Than Kobe Bryant Support to Land Top Free Agents

After a trying, discouraging January, the Los Angeles Lakers are barreling straight for top-five-pick status in the 2015 draft. That's about it when it comes to the rest of this campaign and good news.

Even the oddsmakers don't want to have anything to do with the team's season outlook, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

With so little to focus on in the here and now, most Lakers fans presumably have their eyes cast forward to the future, especially the 2015 free-agent class and the status of Kobe Bryant, who's under contract for next season but dealing with yet another devastating late-career injury.

Those two topics are inexorably intertwined, as next season is supposed to be the last hurrah for Bryant, who surely wants to go out on his own terms, health permitting, and set the Lakers up with some new blood.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times noted on Jan. 26 that Bryant was ready and willing to sell the Lakers to prospective free agents this offseason:

With the season-ending shoulder surgery casting great doubt upon his future, one could reasonably wonder whether his role as the Lakers' salesman would come as a potential future teammate or retired club ambassador.

According to Bresnahan, expect the former scenario: 

"He hasn't officially said it yet, but people familiar with his thinking are confident he will return for the final season of his contract. He will turn 37 in August and stand to collect $25 million next season."

Bryant's likely return clears up a few questions for potential future Lakers, but it's not enough for this team to make an appealing pitch. The 36-year-old legend proved to be a drag on the team for the most part, scoring 22.3 points per game on 37.3 percent shooting and a 17.5 efficiency rating, seventh worst among players averaging at least 34 minutes per contest, via

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers