Kobe Bryant got chastised for signing a 2-year $48.5 million extension in 2013. Technically he could have signed for more, but that was the Lakers’ offer.

Bryant maligned as a selfish player throughout his career, swallowed future cap space and any hope of signing big free agents in the off seasons to come. That was the narrative of the story, but did the Lakers organization plot this as part of their conspiracy theory?

Fast forward to 2016 and the Lakers have surpassed their franchise loss total in two consecutive (soon to be three) seasons. Mike D’Antoni and Byron Scott deserve a great deal of the blame for underachieving, but was intentional tanking for a couple of seasons part of the plan starting in 2013?

What if the Lakers didn’t actually intend on signing any major free agents in the summers of 2014 & 2015? Failed pitch attempts for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and LaMarcus Aldridge makes you wonder if they ever had a chance.

They’ve been stockpiling young talent in Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell & Larry Nance Jr. without taking on big contracts.

Acquiring large one-year expiring contracts of Jeremy Lin and Roy Hibbert were purely financial moves.

Meanwhile Mitch Kupchak stated it’s hard to showcase their young stars at the expense of Bryant’s 20th and final season. While this may be true, it seems to center the blame on Bryant rather than taking responsibility for multiple failed leadership decisions since Phil Jackson retired as Head Coach.

If the Lakers three year plan was to purposely lose in order to shed salaries and obtain young talent, Bryant seems to be the ideal scapegoat. Any player in Bryant’s shoes would have accepted the contract extension.

In fact if anyone is to blame, its the Lakers organization for offering the contract to Bryant.

Kobe Bryant sells tickets and without him the past couple of years, the Lakers would have surely lost money. Ever since Jim Buss took over it’s been about making money over winning. Signing Bryant to his final contract was a business move by the Buss family to cover up their incompetence.

Not only have the Lakers wasted Bryant’s latter years, but they also used him as a smokescreen for their race to rebuild.

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Author, blogger, speaker & die-hard Lakers fan

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