It appears the Black Mamba and King James spent some time together during the 2018-19 NBA season. While the year didn’t go nearly as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s hope surrounding the upcoming offseason, including both free agency and the 2019 NBA Draft. But before we get there, guard Lance Stephenson was recently asked a bit about last year and also about the future.
One topic which came up during a quick conversation Stephenson had with TMZ Sports was about Kobe Bryant. In the video, the reporter asks Lance if Kobe was “calling the shots,” and the conversation went to Bryant’s role as a mentor shortly after.
TMZ: “A lot of people think Kobe Bryant is running the show. That he’s calling the shots. Is that a possibility?”
Stephenson: “Who knows?”
TMZ: “Does he mentor you guys at all?”
Stephenson: “Oh, definitely, he always comes to practice.”
While the talks of Bryant running the show in Los Angeles are surely overblown quite a bit, the fact he’s around the team a decent amount isn’t all that surprising. Realistically, it’s unknown exactly how often Kobe has shown up to practice, but having him in the building probably can’t hurt, and didn’t seem to cause any type of problem during the year.
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Kobe Bryant Recruiting Kyrie Irving to Lakers in Free Agency?
The chatter around the Lakers and how their offseason could play out in terms of free agency has been an interesting talking point. While there’s a strong chance they’ll make an attempt to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, there are a number of high-profile free agents who could be in the mix.
One name worth watching is Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, especially after he and LeBron James apparently sorted out any differences they had this past season. And as NBA analyst Ric Bucher told Colin Cowherd on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, Irving is reportedly down to the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in free agency, via FOX Sports Radio.
Beyond that, it appears Kobe is at least a partial reason for that.
“The latest that I’ve heard is that it’s between Brooklyn and the Lakers. And I’ve heard that the Lakers – and Kobe Bryant indicated to me that he was not involved … but I was told in the last 24 hours, Kobe has been busy recruiting Kyrie, in particular, to try to get him to the Lakers. Everything that I’ve heard, I would still expect that Kyrie is going to go to Brooklyn, that’s the odds-on favorite. And if we’re going to continue our real estate, he just bought a place in South Orange.” Bucher said.
Lakers’ Free Agency & NBA Draft Outlook
Aside from Irving, names like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and multiple others could be on the free agency market. There’s also been some chatter about the Lakers having interest in a possible trade for either Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal or Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry.
If the Lakers were to make a play for either Beal or Lowry, it would likely come in a situation where the push to trade for Davis wound up not being a realistic option. Beyond all of that, Los Angeles also has the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft, which could be used either as a trade chip or to add an instant-impact player to the current young core.