Coming into this season, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers looked better than ever with basically the same championship caliber team intact, the one key addition was defensive minded small forward Ron Artest who has given the Lakers the much needed toughness they’ve been looking for over the past couple of seasons as they have gone from perennial playoff team to perennial title contenders.
Originally, the Lakers wanted to re-sign up and coming youngster Trevor Ariza as he was a key piece to the puzzle for the Lakers in the championship run last year, but the Houston Rockets offered more money and more of an opportunity to get playing time and a chance to be a superstar in this league.
Despite the loss of Ariza, the Lakers have played brilliantly in the first half of the NBA regular season and look like they can make a run for another NBA championship as they are just running the table in the Western Conference.
Of course the Lakers will have to deal with the likes of the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz, but it would be hard to argue that they are still not the best all around team in the NBA today led by superstar reigning NBA finals MVP Kobe Bryant.
There has been a lot of buzz flying around the NBA this season about what free agent superstar will be going where this summer when big names like the Toronto Raptors’ Chris bosh, Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade and most notably the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James all make decisions on which team they will signed with this off-season.
Over the past couple of seasons, teams like the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat have all been trying to clear cap space in order to able to sign these superstar players to huge contracts for the long-term. Unfortunately for the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks the best of them in this race for clearing cap space as they have the most money to deal with in the summer free agent market comes around.
Even though players like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are the two players in which people keep their eye on more than any, Kobe Bryant is still yet to sign an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers which is leading people to believe that he might be holding out until this summer to see what these big name free agents will signed for in order to force the Lakers to sign him for the biggest deal this summer.
Obviously at this point in time, Kobe couldn’t really go anywhere else in the NBA where he would be better off, the only thing he might gain from going elsewhere would be a huge paycheck, but he would lose the chance of be on to win or compete for a title over the next five years which might be the last five years he played in the NBA.
Despite everyone believing that Kobe will ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, especially if they win another NBA title this season, you never know what can happen in this league especially when large amounts of money are involved like it will be this summer.
The one team that will probably make a big play for Kobe Bryant is the New York Knicks who always wanted to have another big name star play at Madison Square Garden, but I believe Kobe holding out is only to raise his price tagged the Lakers as he would be foolish to go anywhere else before ending his Hall of Fame career in the NBA.