Kobe Bryant’s Future Could Play A Big Role In The Sixers Rebuild

February 23rd, 2015 by Sam Shipley | Filed under NBA, Sixers.

Kobe Bryant Could Be A Significant Road Block In Sam Hinkie’s Plan

It has been completely obvious that the Sixers rebuild is very unorthodox compared to how other teams usually go about rebuilding a franchise. Trading an All-Star Point Guard and the reigning Rookie of the year is certainly something teams don’t do when they are in the process of rebuilding a team. However, Sixers General Manager Sam Hinkie is an analytics genius and is attempting to use that to his advantage in building the Sixers to become a powerhouse one day.

Hinkie has taken calculated risks, and the plan almost looks to be Wall Street like at times. For example, Hinkie’s recent major shakeup was trading reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams for a potential top of the line draft pick. A move that some loved and also a moved that some hated. Some people couldn’t understand the logic of trading a young player who was the face of the rebuilding process when it all began back in the 2013 NBA Draft.

However, if you look at it from a different standpoint you might see a glimpse of Hinkie’s logic.

Carter-Williams was the 11th overall pick in his draft, which also happened to be a weak draft class. Over the summer months reports and rumors began to surface about the Sixers wanting to move Carter-Williams, and the overall belief was that the young point guard wasn’t in their long-term plans anymore. The Sixers never tipped their hand to prove that was true.

Instead Sam Hinkie played his cards perfect.

He waited until the last possible minute (literally on the day of the trading deadline) and shipped out Carter-Williams for a highly coveted draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. A pick that is top-5 protected this season, top-3 protected next season, and unprotected the year after that. Now obviously there are no guarantees that the player drafted with that pick will be better than Carter-Williams, as nobody can predict that. However, Hinkie turned an 11th pick in a weak draft class into a possible top 6 pick in a much stronger draft class, and maybe even higher after that.

From that perspective the move looks to be intriguing. Especially considering the state of the Lakers the last two seasons as one of the worst teams in the NBA, with little signs of hope considering the current structure of the team.

As of today, the Lakers will have about $19 million in cap room this upcoming summer to fill three roster spots. While $19 million is certainly enough money to get a couple solid players in to fill out the roster, it is not enough money to go on a spending spree to bring in top of the line players (meaning multiple).

At that glance of reality, it seems as though the Sixers are in a good position to obtain a high draft pick from the Lakers. However, one person could change all of that.

Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, who is recovering from a third straight season ending injury, was reportedly rumored to retire after next season, which is the last on his current contract.

It makes sense for Bryant to go out next season. He has already had his undeniable legendary success in the NBA winning five championships, playing in seven NBA Finals, winning an MVP award, third in scoring in the history of the NBA, and the list goes on and on.

Next season would be Bryant’s 20th in the NBA, and as I touched on before the Lakers aren’t exactly in a position to contend even if they bring in a big time free agent this summer. The reason for that is out of the $47.8 million that is owed next season, $25 million of that is Bryant’s.

But what if that changed?

Bryant denied the report of his retirement after next season in an interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, saying “No, it’s not true. It’s not true.”

In a recent interview with NBA TV, Bryant went into great depth about his career and also touched on the future. One of the biggest pieces taken out of the interview for many to interpret was this quote:

“I thought the Spurs were done 20 years ago. Those guys are still winning…So, to answer the question, I can’t say this is the end of my era because I thought their [era] was done, and they’re still there. So I’m hoping I can have the same rebirth.” – Kobe Bryant during interview with NBA TV.

There is only one possible way that this can happen. Bryant restructures his current contract, and takes a step back from being the lead guy in Los Angeles, allowing the interest of other superstars rise significantly with the idea of coming to arguably the leagues most attractive franchise. Not only would those superstars team up with a legendary player like Bryant who’s desire to win is unmatched, but once Bryant does walk away they would be the next face of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So how does all of this affect the Sixers rebuild?

If that would become a reality, it could possibly hurt the Sixers significantly. Let’s say the Lakers restructured Bryant’s contract and brought in one superstar this summer along with solid players, on top of their likely top-5 pick this upcoming draft. The Lakers would be in a much better position to make a playoff push in the tough Western Conference then they would to be in the top picks of the lottery.

The Sixers could go from possibly ending up with a top-4 pick next year to ending up with a pick outside the top-10, or perhaps even outside the lottery. The possibility then for striking gold by drafting a player that would be an upgrade over a proven starter that Carter-Williams was decreases significantly.

It also doesn’t stop there. If the Lakers aren’t able to bring in any real talent this summer and Kobe Bryant does indeed retire after next season the Lakers will have a ton of cap space for a free agent class that may feature the likes of Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.

So while Sam Hinkie’s moves look to be genius (in my personal opinion) as he is trying to put the team in a position to have their hands on transcendent talent such as he did with putting the Sixers in the position this past draft to take either Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Joel Embiid, this calculated risk might be a little bit more out of his hands then some realize.

And the results could be detrimental to a rebuild that is already two years in with a lot of hope on it’s future top draft picks.


Follow Sam Shipley on Twitter: @samshipley5

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