How Kobe’s injury could impact free agency
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
‘Tis the season for the NBA guessing game, where the projections and what-ifs from the media are as much a part of the pre-pre-season discussion as those final camp invites among the teams that are finalizing their rosters.
So it is, then, that our panel of pundits — in this case, Sean Highkin and Adi Joseph — have been weighing in with the informative and entertaining “Watchability Rankings” in recent weeks as they determine which teams will most, and least, deserve your attention once the season begins Oct. 29. But there was one particular entry that demands more discussion: the inauspicious No. 24 ranking for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The question of how watchable the Lakers will be is indisputably tied to the question of how Kobe Bryant is recovering from his April Achilles tendon tear, and that bit of theater will always be worth watching because of the ripple effect it will have on the vaunted free agency summer of 2014. He’s 35 years old as of Aug. 28 and has logged more regular season minutes all time than all but 13 NBA players (45,390) and another 8,641 in 220 playoff games.
He will be playing catch up all year considering he is expected to miss the entire preseason and will no longer be sharing the floor with big man Dwight Howard, who most of us thought would spend his days helping keep Bryant in title contention in Los Angeles. In other words, that healed Achilles will have to endure one torturous uphill climb.
If he’s a few more steps slow and not worthy of consideration as a starring member of another superteam, then it would stand to reason that — assuming Bryant re-signs with the Lakers as expected — the notion of LeBron James opting out of his Miami Heat deal and joining him in Los Angeles seems far-fetched. So Kobe’s play, you could say, should be monitored closely by Heat fans as they decide whether or not to be concerned about James leaving town next summer.
Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks’ star who would seem to be a prime … [For more on How Kobe Bryant's injury could impact NBA free agency, click here.]