It seems the Los Angeles Lakers are having a hard time attracting marquee free agents this offseason, and the reason why might be more obvious than you think.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t an easy guy to play with in his prime. But now that he’s entering his age-37 season? Forget it.
“When I was getting recruited by the Lakers, the one thing everyone was saying in the locker room was there’s just a lot of drama,” former NBA guard Derek Anderson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “No one’s actually pointing to names, but you pretty much knew what it was about. When you’re playing basketball, the one thing you want to do is get away from that. I played for the Portland Trail Blazers, so that was the last place I wanted to go back to where there was more drama, and I think most guys who are playing, if you don’t have a solid place to go and say, ‘We definitely can win a championship,’ you don’t want to go with added extra pressure. So I think even when Carmelo didn’t go and all these other superstars and all these players didn’t go, they think it’s just a lot of drama in the locker room. And Kobe’s last comment was he wants to hang banners more than he wants to have friends. So it’s just a different era I guess these days.”
But if Bryant only wants to win, shouldn’t that attract free agents? Well, yes, in theory.
Bryant, however, no longer seems capable of winning a championship. He’s played in just 41 games over the last two seasons.
“If he was in his prime, I think you would get a lot of these younger guys (wanting to go there),” Anderson said. “Because the Lakers are still one of the best franchises ever, so most people would say, ‘I would love just to play for the Lakers.’”
But not when there’s drama and pressure and, in all likelihood, a lot of losing on the horizon.
In the East, meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly interested in trading for Joe Johnson, who, with a $24.9 million salary, is arguably the most overpaid player in the NBA.
The Cavs want help on the perimeter, but is acquiring Johnson the right way to get it?
“I honestly don’t think so,” Anderson said. “I don’t think you need that type of scoring. You got every scoring that you want. When Kyrie was healthy, you got all the points that you needed. You needed someone to protect the rim better. I think they have their bigs. I just think they haven’t played a whole season. I think now that they’ve played through this playoffs and did what they needed to do – and they need someone to actually make the system work. Having LeBron dominate the ball the entire game, he ran out of gas. Your star player shouldn’t run out of gas. If you got that much talent around you, you need to have other people helping. Now people being healthy – Love, Kyrie – I think you don’t need any help. Just keep the team you have and let them finish out this year. If you want something else, go after them the following year if this doesn’t work. But I think the team the Cavs have now is enough. They don’t need anything else.”