Jamaal Wilkes was a key contributor to two Los Angeles Lakers championship teams in the 80s and has his number retired alongside all of the other Laker greats. He was even in attendance at the introductory press conference for head coach Byron Scott, his former teammate.
In looking at the current state of the Lakers, Wilkes feels that Kobe Bryant just doesn’t have much help, and that he can’t carry the team the way he used to as he revealed to Adi Joseph of The Sporting News:
He has very little help, and I’m sure he feels like it’s all on him because it has been for the last 18, 19 years. And I’m sure he doesn’t know what to expect from himself or what his body can give him now. But it’s clear that he’s near the end. He’s in the last year of his contract. But physically, he just can’t carry the group more.”
Wilkes also added that he hopes Kobe’s minutes are cut next season, and that Scott learned his lesson about overplaying Kobe this year, via Joseph:
Personally, I’d like to see his minutes cut where he could play the majority of the fourth quarter. But that’s going to be hard for Coach Scott because, Kobe, you think you want Kobe out there all the time. But I think they’ve learned that he just can’t do it all anymore.”
It seems pretty apparent that Kobe Bryant’s career is soon coming to a close, and the Lakers are trying to prepare themselves for life once he is gone. The team has two great young pieces in Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, and have the means to drastically improve this off-season between multiple draft picks as well as ample salary cap space.
The Lakers front office will be under a lot of pressure to turn things around so that Kobe can have an excellent final year, and legends like Wilkes can enjoy the product on the floor once again.[divide]
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