Los Angeles Lakers Taking Smart Approach to 2014 Free Agency

Offseason contingency plans are hard for NBA teams and fans to swallow if they aren't smart.

Lucky for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans, then, that they're proud owners of perhaps the savviest backup plan out there.

The Lakers weren't supposed to be in this situation. They were supposed to have re-signed Dwight Howard last summer. When he left for the Houston Rockets, they were supposed to strike free-agency gold this summer—which they didn't.

Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and LeBron James all signed elsewhere, leaving the Lakers to enact a less glamorous, but equally important plan B that will shape their future direction for better or worse. 


Pleasing Kobe

At the moment, it's for the better. 

Missing out on Anthony—whom the Lakers offered a max contract—and the other top free-agency prizes stings. But, first and foremost, their aggressive pursuit safeguards them against the wrath of an ever-impatient, callously competitive, logic-rebuffing Kobe Bryant. 

That's one of the main and understated goals of Los Angeles' free-agency exploits. The Lakers aren't just trying to improve their team, they're attempting to appease a soon-to-be-36-year-old chasing his sixth championship.

Getting him on board with their plans is paramount. Disgruntled superstars—especially those as forthright and shamelessly cheeky as Bryant—can stall chemistry and curb progress.

Merely exhibiting the willingness to invest in Anthony, Bryant's friend, was and remains an attention-grabbing maneuver with allegiant undertones. Striking out doesn't matter in those terms. Showing Bryant his pleas to win are being heard resonates even more.

And the Lakers' actions, their attempts to immediately improve via free agency, are resonating. Said Bryant, via Bleacher Report's Kevin Di...

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