NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Lakers Involving Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Jim Buss talk strategy… Dario Saric appears to have minimal interest in playing in the NBA… Joel Embiid unsure about leaving Kansas.

Yannis Koutroupis profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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Kobe, Jim Buss Talk Strategy

“Jimmy [executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss] and I actually talked after that and it’s important for us to have that conversation because this is their team, it’s been in their family for years and we all know what the track record is for that, but I’ve also been part of this franchise since I was 17 years old,” Bryant told Rovell. “I feel like I bleed purple and gold and I want to see this franchise be successful. I don’t want to hear the comments of dissension between Jim and [Lakers president] Jeanie [Buss]. We need to figure this thing out. We’re all moving in the same direction.”

Bryant, who signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the team in November to lock up his 19th and 20th seasons in L.A., reiterated his message of urgency to Buss to return to the top as soon as possible.

“This organization is just not going to go [down],” Bryant said. “It’s not going to take a nose dive. But I think we need to accelerate it a little bit for selfish reasons, because I want to win and I want to win next season. So, it’s kind of getting them going now as opposed to two years from now.”

Via David McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

If Lakers co-owner Jim Buss has proven anything this season, it’s a commitment to Bryant and a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep of the franchise’s greatest players ever happy. Communicating with Bryant after he voiced some concerns publicly is just another example of that, but whether he lets his opinion impact the team’s rebuilding plan is another story.

The Lakers’ best opportunity to rebuild could be the summer of 2015 when more obtainable top-level free agents like Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love are set to hit the market. This summer’s free agent crop, while potentially stocked with All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, projects to be a lot more difficult to make noise in – especially with Bryant’s two-year extension kicking in.

The Lakers’ offseason will begin as soon as the regular season ends. Shortly after will be the draft lottery and perhaps even before then a decision will have to be made regarding the status of head coach Mike D’Antoni.

Bryant’s voice is clearly being heard, we’ll know in short order, though, how much it’s actually being listened to.

Dario Saric staying overseas?

Saric hasn’t officially announced anything, but multiple sources say that he has an agreement in principle with Efes Pilson that will pay him $8.27 million over the next three years. There’s no word yet on what the NBA buyout looks like, but he for sure won’t be able to come to the NBA next season and sources say it’s highly unlikely he’ll even declare for this year’s draft.

Via Chad Ford of ESPN Insiders

Chalk up another loss for the 2014 NBA Draft Class, which could become significantly thinner if Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid decide to hold off on declaring as well.

Saric, the 2013 FIBA Young Men’s Player of the Year, is one of the top small forward prospects and a projected lottery pick. However, his desire to play in the NBA seems minimal right now. He pulled out of last year’s draft and now may not have a NBA out for a couple of years in his new deal. There will likely still be interest in him once it expires, but a trend seems to be forming. He’s highly rated and respected; if the NBA is where he wanted to be, he’d declare and pass on this deal.

Embiid give no indications on draft decision

Joel Embiid will consult the Kansas coaching staff and also his mentor, fellow Cameroon native and NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute, before making a final decision concerning his NBA future.

Kansas was eliminated by Stanford in the round of 32 on Sunday. Embiid missed the end of the regular season, Big 12 Tournament and the Jayhawks’ two NCAA Tournament games with a back injury.

“I’m not worried about that right now,” Embiid said of the draft.

Embiid said he would have been ready for the Sweet 16 had Kansas advanced.

Via Jeff Goodman of ESPN

Typically when a player is projected to go as high as Embiid is the decision is made for him. However, like Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart last year, Embiid appears to be open to passing on being a top three draft pick. He’s been very non-committal. His late-season injury could be used as reasoning to either stay or go, but the NBA’s deadline for early entry is April 27, so we’ll know in short fashion what the potentially top overall selection is going to do. With nobody else really blowing scouts away, Embiid could still very likely go No. 1.

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Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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