Who Needs the Other More in Lakers-Dante Exum Lovefest?

Dante Exum, generally regarded as a top-five prospect in the upcoming NBA draft, has been hanging out at Los Angeles Lakers games recently with his agent, Rob Pelinka. There’s a mutual crush between the team and the Australian wonder kid, but who needs who more?

For 18-year-old Exum, it’s a case of schoolboy infatuation. As related by Jon Tuxworth for The Canberra Times, the young guard signed with his agent due to a matter of access:

A reason why I signed with the agent I'm with is he has Kobe Bryant, and he's been through this when he came into the NBA. I guess having him as a mentor who can guide me through what he did and how he became successful is something which is pretty good. I haven't chatted to him yet, but the agent said Kobe knows who I am and he said he'd definitely have a chat to me.

Since making that statement, Exum moved to Los Angeles, where he’s working out in preparation for the draft. And not only has he attended multiple Lakers games, he has also been seen lingering outside the locker room. One presumes that includes at least a meet-and-greet with the Mamba.

There’s an interesting historical parallel at play here.

Eighteen years ago, another bright young hope had a thing for the Lakers. The New Jersey Nets, however, were standing in the way of the kid from Lower Merion.

As Ian O’Connor for ESPN New York writes, a series of maneuvers and schemes culminated with phone calls by Bryant and his agent, Arn Tellem, to Nets coach John Calipari and GM John Nash: “Prospect and agent declared they wanted no part of Jersey; Tellem even threatened that his client would play in Italy if the Nets ignored their wishes.”

The rest is history—the precocious high school star was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats, who had reached an agreement with Jerry West for a Vlade Divac-for-Bryant swap.

Flash forwar...

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