Kobe Bryant says he’s not recruiting Kevin Durant to Lakers. Yet?

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Kevin Durant doesn’t become a free agent until 2016, but the recruitment process begins much earlier, especially because the NBA doesn’t consider players talking to each other to be colluding.

Chandler Parsons gave the Rockets a few-weeks head start on Dwight Howard, who ultimately chose Houston (because of Parsons, according to Parsons). Joakim Noah began recruiting Carmelo Anthony months before Melo become a free agent, and that nearly lured Melo to Chicago (though Melo re-signing with the Knicks might have worked out for the Bulls).

Imagine how early players should be pitching Durant, whose stature rises above even Howard and Melo. It’s not too early even now.

But Kobe Bryant isn’t quite ready to jump into the fray.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

while Bryant said he hasn’t yet recruited Durant, who is set to become a free agent in 2016, Bryant didn’t rule out trying to lure last season’s MVP to the Lakers either.

“I don’t think it’s a discussion that you have in terms of coming here. But I think it’s more of an understanding how to play with each other.”

Said Bryant, “If the opportunity came up, then that’s the time to have that discussion.”

Kobe isn’t even sure he’ll still be playing when Durant could sign with the Lakers, so I understand why this wouldn’t be Kobe’s focus. Besides, it’s unclear Kobe’s involvement would help, though Durant insists it would.

As long as he wants to remain with the Lakers, Kobe’s best chance of winning another title is a star or two signing with them, and Durant is a star among stars. The odds of getting Durant to Los Angeles are long, but if Kobe wants to team up with him, Kobe should at least start dropping pro-Lakers hints now.