NBA Beat: Bryant has much to sort out with this year’s Lakers

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) has a lot to think about this season as part of a team likely to lose a lot of games.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) has a lot to think about this season as part of a team likely to lose a lot of games. Associated Press file photo

Days before the start of the 2014-15 season, Kobe Bryant found himself surrounded by reporters in a hallway answering questions about Steve Nash, who a day earlier had found out he was out for the season with a back injury.

Then the topic switched to Bryant and what he would qualify as a successful season for himself.

“I haven’t thought about it,” Bryant said. “I’d have to sit and think about it.”

There’s certainly a lot to think about.

Expectations are at an all-time low for Bryant in his 19th season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Injuries have already cut into a team that wasn’t the most talented in the league. Nash is done for the season.

Rookie forward Julius Randle was supposed to be a glimmer of hope for the future, but he broke his leg in Tuesday’s season opener.

Nick Young, who can be a scorer off the bench, injured his hand defending Bryant during training camp and is still out.

Then there are questions about Bryant. He’s 36 years old and played only six games in 2013-14. His return from a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in April 2013 was cut short last season when he broke a bone in his leg.

Bryant doesn’t have the help he’s had in the past.

Pau Gasol is gone, opting to sign with Chicago in free agency. Every other big-name free agent spurned the Lakers, too.

That leaves the biggest offseason additions as Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, whose best days were years ago as Chicago waived him during the summer via the amnesty provision to sign Gasol.

The Lakers’ best bet might be to go the Philadelphia 76ers’ route and pile up losses to improve their draft position.

The Lakers’ pick is top-five-protected and will go to Phoenix if it’s out of the top five thanks to the trade that brought Nash to the Lakers.

But trying to convince Bryant he can’t will the Lakers to wins is futile. And the Lakers remain a marquee brand that will have a hard time selling its fan base on tanking a season.

Bryant has never been the type to shy away from taking shots, and this season would seem like an ideal time for him to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. He could always say the Lakers’ best chance of winning is more from him and less from his teammates, something some would not argue.

Bryant averaged 23.7 points in his first three games entering Saturday’s contest at Golden State, but he said he does not plan to make this season about him shooting at will.

“You’ve just got to read the situation, read the situation as it comes,” Bryant said. “The game is going to be different, I’m sure. There will be games I do more, games where I do less. I’ll just play it by ear.”

Trending up

The basketball world has a collective crush on New Orleans forward Anthony Davis.

His season-opening performance against Orlando was sublime – 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocked shots. Davis also had three steals and two assists.

Davis just might be the next big thing in the NBA, especially if he carries New Orleans to the playoffs.

Trending down

Who from the Oklahoma City Thunder walked under a ladder or had a black cat cross his path? The Thunder’s luck can’t get much worse.

Already without Kevin Durant with a foot injury, the Thunder has to deal with losing Russell Westbrook to a broken bone in his hand.

The team won’t look like an NBA title contender until Durant and Westbrook are healthy.

Last words

#wow I might have to leave China and come to LA. This is bad!!!”

–From the Twitter account of Metta World Peace, who is playing in China this season while following his former team, the Lakers, as they were blown out by Houston 108-90 to open the season Tuesday.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

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