That’s not by design, of course.
The Lakers chased LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this summer – reportedly even delaying their coaching search to appease the free agents. But after those failed pursuits, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak called his team’s chances of signing either play unrealistic.
Revisionist history? Probably not in reality, but perhaps to the Lakers.
Since, a compelling case has emerged Kobe’s presence dissuades players from joining the Lakers. Kobe – who flew back to Los Angeles for Melo’s visit – has shrugged off those concerns, but he’s addressing them more directly now.
“Facts are, ‘Melo stayed in New York, partly because it was a great financial decision,” Bryant told Yahoo. “LeBron going home speaks for itself.
“What the hell do you want me to do?”
Bryant shrugged and smiled. “Helps the click-thrus, though.”
But those weren’t insurmountably great situations for either player.
LeBron considered re-signing with the Heat. Melo considered several teams, most notably the Bulls. If the Lakers were at their most appealing, perhaps LeBron and Melo would have more strongly considered Los Angeles.
It says something the Lakers couldn’t generate more traction with either. Maybe it speaks to Kobe’s attitude or Kobe’s production or the shrinking importance of market size in personal branding or any number of other factors. Of course, the Kobe-related issues will draw the most attention.
What more could Kobe have done to attract LeBron or Melo? Be 10 years young, take a retroactive pay cut and change his style of play – and that still might not be enough.
The Lakers aren’t drawing prime free agents. Kobe’s presence plays a role, but that’s different than blaming him for his inaction. It’s just not in his power to do more at this point.