Lakers need Kobe Bryant to help recruit, but will stars come for less?

Could heretofore NBA foes Carmelo Anthony, left, and Kobe Bryant be coming together as Lakers teammates in the near future?
Could heretofore NBA foes Carmelo Anthony, left, and Kobe Bryant be coming together as Lakers teammates in the near future?
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers finished the 2014 NBA draft with a pair of promising players.

The team took Kentucky forward Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick and Missouri combo guard Jordan Clarkson with the 46th selection (purchased from the Washington Wizards).

Now the Lakers will get ready for free agency, starting on July 1 at 9:01 p.m. Pacific.

“We are prepared with enough space to be aggressive,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday of the Lakers’ potential available cap space in July.

“The [free agent] class is a large class, but in terms of the best of the best, there’s only a couple,” he said. “We structured our salary knowing that you might not get two or three guys, but we have enough room to get at least one. If we don’t have one — and we choose to, we can go down the road and have flexibility next year and the year after that.”


If Miami’s LeBron James and New York’s Carmelo Anthony will come, the Lakers would obviously be ecstatic. If Kupchak doesn’t like his options, he may choose instead to use the Lakers’ cap room in 2015 or 2016.

Can the Lakers get a pair of stars to take pay cuts to join Kobe Bryant and Randle in Los Angeles?

“There are some players that are willing to do that and there are some players just aren’t,” said Kupchak. “We’re still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise and that’s going to be our goal. As long as Kobe is on this team, we have to believe we can contend for a championship.”

Will Bryant be a part of the recruiting process?

“I would not be surprised if Kobe reaches out, or if free agents reach out to Kobe,” said Kupchak. “I know from time to time when we recruit free agents, I’ll call Kobe and say, ‘Hey give this guy a call.’ ... We did it with Steve Nash a couple of years ago. So it’s not unusual.”

While Bryant took a pay cut in a two-year extension, dipping from $30.5 million to $23.5 million for the coming season, can he ask other stars to come to the Lakers when Bryant’s sacrifice still kept him as the highest paid player in the NBA?

He can certainly try, even if it seems to be a long shot.

The Lakers will find out in a few days when the free agency period finally begins.

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