What LA Lakers Need from Kobe Bryant During Rebuilding Phase

Kobe Bryant’s career is coming to a close, and the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need certain things from him as the end approaches.

Bryant is unquestionably one of the greatest players the franchise has ever seen, and he has helped the team raise five championship banners with his singular talent. However, the Lakers will need more than his elite skills going forward.

Bryant ruptured his Achilles late in the 2012-13 season, which forced him to miss the early portion of the 2013-14 campaign. He rejoined his teammates in December and played six games, but then fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee per Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.

As a result, the former league MVP is at risk of missing the balance of the season. Still, there are things Bryant can bring to the table regardless of the fact he’s apparently handcuffed the franchise with his $48.5 million extension.

The Lake Show initially wanted to make a big free-agent splash this offseason, but Bryant’s contract complicates this scenario. The Lakers should have roughly $26 million in cap room if they renounce all of their expiring deals.

It's unlikely L.A. will sign a superstar free agent this summer. Such a player would require a salary in the range of $20 million per season, leaving only $6 million to complete the roster. The summer of 2015, with a more attractive free-agent class, would probably provide a better target.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hinted as much:

The Lakers? They are aware of the difference in the free-agent choices, and that's why it has been reported by several outlets that the Lakers might sit out much of the 2014 market and wait until 2015, when they'll have more money to spend and the pool of talent in free agency will be much deeper.

In the event general manager Mitch Kupchak sits on the sidelines this offseason, it means Los Angeles will be rebuilding du...

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