This is not what Lakers fans generally envision.
The idea is that after this season the Lakers only have Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and maybe Nick Young (player option but for only $1.2 million) on the books. Fans expect a radical overhaul of the roster and one that takes big steps back toward contending.
Kobe will be back (and the Lakers need to get a deal with him quickly because of his $32 million cap hold) but it was thought this is the end of the Pau Gasol era in Los Angeles.
“We’re in a cycle,” Kupchak said. “We’re hopeful that within a year from now, we’ll have enough flexibility. We’re hopeful that Pau and Kobe can continue to play and we’ll have options to rebuild the team.”
The reality is things are fluid during the rebuild — if the Lakers can trade Gasol during this season to get a player or other asset they really want in return, they will do it. You can expect Gasol trade rumors to fly this season. The Lakers will listen to offers for Steve Nash (although it is unlikely the Lakers could get any value for him) and everyone on the roster not named Kobe.
But if there are not other options out there and Gasol will take a pay cut, the Lakers could bring him back.
Unless you are a die hard that thinks LeBron James really is going to bolt Miami for Los Angeles — which is about as likely as Kanye West covering “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” — this rebuild is really going to be a process, one that takes a couple seasons to come together. The realities of the new CBA and the NBA focus on pairing young stars is going to make this Lakers rebuild more challenging than ones in the past. It’s going to require a savvy and patient fan base.
And it could mean a couple more years of Kobe and Gasol together.