Will Kobe Bryant Help or Hinder Los Angeles Lakers Rebuild Through Free Agency?

Kobe Bryant finds himself in unfamiliar territory with the Los Angeles Lakers, injured and aging, desperately trying to win another championship that's predicated on the performances of players the team doesn't yet have.

Adjustments don't come much more abruptly for a player who, for so long, was the Lakers' primary championship lifeline, second to no one, least of all to teammates existing only in theory.

Time is a funny thing, though, fickle in its impact, yet overwhelming in its end result. It cannot be tricked or outrun, cheated or defeated. Inevitably, it gets the best of everyone, like it has Bryant in the last year. 

Make no mistake, the lionhearted Bryant has the will and work ethic of 20-year-olds and the self-confidence and fearlessness of clairvoyantly accurate crystal-ball gazers. But while heart is there, the self-reliance, whether Bryant admits it or not, can't be.

If the Lakers are to extend his championship window into next season and beyond, they must rebuild through free agency this summer and next. Never mind NBA-ready draft picks or extensive, worthwhile projects. The Lakers need stars—partners who define Bryant's twilight through winning and title contention, not natural regression.

Pairing Bryant with that second and third superstar is, historically, easier said than done, simpler financially than in reality.


Past Impact

Past sidekicks, even when they've actually worked, have seldom worked. Pau Gasol is the exception; Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard are the examples. 

Egos clash in any environment where multiple personalities fancy themselves alpha dogs. Each time that's happened in Lakerland, Bryant has come out on top, no matter how long it's taken. 

Non-negotiable pecking orders have generally worked for the Lakers. Bryant has five rings as proof. Breakups and sh...

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