Los Angeles Rumors: Bryant, Hibbert, Young, Pierce

Kobe Bryant’s continued presence on the Lakers’ roster has kept the franchise in a holding pattern, Shaun Powell of NBA.com opines. Bryant’s $25MM contract this season hampered them from signing a top-level free agent and none of them wanted to join the Lakers anyway just to play one season with Bryant, Powell continues. Bryant, who might retire at the end of the season, could play a valuable role in the rebuilding process by mentoring his younger teammates, Powell adds.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Roy Hibbert’s lack of speed could be a larger liability in the Western Conference, argues J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. The Lakers acquired Hibbert from Indiana in a July 9th deal, sending a future second-round draft pick to the Pacers in return. While Hibbert may increase the Lakers’ talent level, his plodding style of play could leave him lagging behind other teams in the conference, and Michael fears that coach Byron Scott may be stubborn enough to try to match him up with players such as the Warriors’ Draymond Green.
  • Nick Young of the Lakers and Paul Pierce of the Clippers are among the players projected to decline next season by Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Greene expects Young’s minutes, shots and overall role to regress with the addition of Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell as well as Bryant’s return from injury. The writer expects Pierce, who left the Wizards to sign with the Clippers as a free agent, to have his first season averaging below double figures in scoring. Also on Greene’s list are the Pistons’ Brandon Jennings, the Nets’ Joe Johnson, the Bulls’ Pau Gasol, the Hawks’ Kyle Korver, the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, the Raptors’ Terrence Ross and the Heat’s Dwyane Wade.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

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