It has been another disappointing season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles will possibly finish the 2015-16 season with the franchise’s worst record while missing the NBA playoffs for a third consecutive year.
The Lakers brass has come to terms with the fact this is a lost season and want to continue to develop their young core of players in the meantime. Although Julius Randle has progressed into a player that can get a double-double on a nightly basis, head coach Byron Scott has been highly criticized for his handling of rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Kobe Bryant’s farewell season hindering the development of the team’s young players has also been a hot topic of discussion as of late. Team president Jeanie Buss doesn’t believe that to be true. Buss made some comparisons to some other aging stars in the league playing with young players trying to develop in an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today:
“I don’t buy into that, that Kobe is such a distraction,” Jeanie Buss said. “It’s about managing how things go. I see a player like Kevin Garnett who has done well in Minnesota with the younger players. A guy like Dwyane Wade playing with younger players (in Miami). I think you see it around the league everywhere.
“I don’t understand why that narrative has been created. It shouldn’t be that way – maybe Kobe’s popularity (affects it more)? But I don’t see what that has to do with training and practicing and things like that. Maybe I’m just naïve.”
It’s difficult to compare Bryant’s situation to any other player in the league today or in the past. The Lakers are in a unique position with their superstar on the verge of retirement. Kobe has played for almost two decades for the franchise and is highly regarded as one of the best players of all-time.
Bryant, unlike Kevin Garnett with the Minnesota Timberwolves, is still playing a major role on the team and can still play at a high level. Kobe has been reluctant to take a step back during his last season with the Lakers, and that has led to this level of criticism with developing D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson needing to be the focus in the backcourt moving forward.