Just in case you thought this year would be any less dysfunctional for the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak is here to assure you it will be just as absurd. Kobe Bryant is in the last year of his deal with the Lakers, and is coming off yet another major surgery. It’s as plain as day that he’s diminished as a player. Yet, for some reason, Kupchak thinks all of the new Lakers have to prove themselves to Kobe, as he said in an interview with Sirius XM NBA.
Why, exactly, do the young players, the ones around whom the Lakers are trying to build a future, have to prove to Kobe that they belong? It should probably be more important that they prove it to the organization that drafted or signed them, rather than a player who may not be there next year, and certainly won’t be there when those young players reach their prime. And what happens if Kobe decides they don’t belong? Will they trade them, simply to appease him? It’s probably pretty hard for them to even begin to get his approval when he doesn’t even talk to them.
To be fair, Kupchak almost has to say these sorts of things, if only to appease Kobe — a deity in LA now. As long as he’s on the Lakers, Kobe will have a stranglehold on the “franchise player” tag even though his days as a true franchise player have passed. Still, appeasement or no, it’s an absurd statement, which shouldn’t be surprising, given the overall absurdity of the Lakers franchise the past two seasons.