Those close to Kobe Bryant are certain that he’ll play again next season, particularly since this season is likely to have ended with a torn rotator cuff, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Bryant plans to help the Lakers recruit in free agency this summer, Bresnahan also hears (Twitter link), and the team plans to use the location of its training camp for next season, set for Hawaii, to lure free agents, too, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (on Twitter). The present for the Lakers seems like it’s fast giving way to the future, and there’s more related to the Lakers and next season amid the latest on the purple-and-gold:
- The Lakers plan a meaningful roster upgrade this summer even if they miss out on the top free agents, writes Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, suggesting it’ll be an effort to prepare the club to be in position to strike for Kevin Durant and others in the class of 2016 free agents. Executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss was even more anxious to spend money than father Jerry Buss was shortly before his death, according to Ding. The Lakers view the draft as “supplementary” and not a primary method of rebuilding, Ding adds.
- Julius Randle has changed agents, hiring Aaron Mintz and Steve Heumann, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The CAA representatives replace George Bass of AAI Sports.
- Agent Rob Pelinka has the inside track to sign Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who examines how Pelinka, Kobe’s agent, has served as a liaison between top prospects and Bryant in the past. Johnson is the No. 5 prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, No. 10 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com, and fifth in Eddie Scarito’s Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Power Rankings.