Kobe Bryant has long been interested in adding Raja Bell as a teammate.
He tried to convince Bell to sign in Los Angeles back in 2010, but Bell chose to go with Utah instead. Now, with Bell’s former coach Mike D’Antoni holding down the head coaching job in Los Angeles, the team might be interested in Bell’s services once again.
Bell is under contract with the Jazz, but not with the team due to an agreement to disagree over his diminished role there. The team has given Bell permission to seek out other options, which brings us to this.
Bell, 36, has had strong advocates with general manager Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant since the summer, but D’Antoni’s history coaching Bell with the Phoenix Suns has amplified discussion of signing the veteran guard should the Lakers create an opening on their roster.
Bell is still under contract with the Jazz, but the team has allowed him to stay away this season until he finds a suitable offer and the two sides can execute a buyout. Once Bell has secured a contract for the veteran’s minimum elsewhere, the Jazz will buy out the difference on the remaining $3.5 million on his 2012-13 contract. Bell wouldn’t lose any money between the buyout and joining a new team.
The finances would appear to make this deal undesirable for the Lakers, considering they’d have to cut someone with a guaranteed salary to sign Bell, and then pay Bell that vertan’s minimum to play in L.A.
Taking on added payroll doesn’t seem to be worth it in this case, for someone with Bell’s diminished skill set, who may struggle to even get minutes once Steve Nash and Steve Blake get healthy and are back in the regular rotation.
There’s a big question of whether or not Bell is capable of defending anywhere near the level he’s famous for, and whether or not what he can provide would be an upgrade over guys like Blake, Jodie Meeks, or Darius Morris at this stage of his career.
The one thing Bell has going for him is a career three-point shooting mark of 40.6 percent, and he was close to that in his time with the Jazz, making 39.1 percent of his attempts from distance in 34 games with the team last season. But that might not be enough to entice L.A. to take on the added salary, especially for a player in the twilight of his career who may or may not be able to get anywhere near consistent minutes.