After Kobe Bryant gave the NBA an unforgettable 60-point sendoff Wednesday, the Lakers faced the first day of the post-Kobe era, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. “Sometimes you cannot help but think about it,” coach Byron Scott said of his 17-65 team. “When you have the type of season that you have, changes will be made.” The changes may start with Scott, who has one year left on his contract, although Medina says the organization recognizes the difficult position he faced with trying to balance a young roster and Bryant’s retirement tour.
The Lakers will have an estimated $55MM in cap space this summer, with much of that being opened by the end of Bryant’s $25MM contract and the expiration of Roy Hibbert‘s $15.5MM deal. The only guaranteed contracts for next year belong to D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown, Nick Young and Lou Williams. The Lakers would like to keep restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Bass may be back with a $3.1MM player option. More difficult decisions surround Hibbert, Metta World Peace, Marcelo Huertas, Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre.
There’s more out of Los Angeles:
- Clarkson believes he will be a Laker again next season, Medina tweets. Clarkson made $845,059 this year, and L.A. must make a $3.2MM qualifying offer to retain the right to match competing bids through the Gilbert Arenas Provision. “I feel confident I’ll be back here,” Clarkson said in today’s exit interview. “I want to be here.”
- Two other free agents also prefer to remain Lakers, Medina relays on Twitter. “This is a great place for me and I love it here,” said Sacre, who made $981,348 this season in the final year of his contract (link). “I’d love to be a part of this process of flipping it around,” said Kelly, who earned more than $1.724MM this season. “But we’ll see (link).”
- Young may not be brought back despite having two years and more than $11MM left on his contract, but he understands the need for changes, Medina writes in a separate story. “You never know what’s gonna happen, but you know something’s got to happen,” Young said. “I know the Lakers are gonna make decisions for the Lakers. We did win 17 games after all.” L.A. expected to try to deal Young in the offseason and may seek to negotiate a buyout if trade talks are unsuccessful.