Dec 13, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) dribbles the ball around Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher (6) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant Forming A Big 3?

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Los Angeles Lakers rebuilding sounds delightful to envious fans that have despised the nearly two decades of championships owned by the franchise. For the Los Angeles faithful, this rut in their search for success has them reaching for tissues.

Boasting a laundry list of Hall of Famers and 16 Larry O’Brien trophies, the expectation of greatness is warranted.

Today, they still are home to the player that has spent half his life in the purple and gold. Kobe Bryant, age 36, is coming off of two major injuries to enter his 18th NBA season.

This is the first time that anything has kept him off the floor for an extended period of time. The roster is far from the one that won the NBA title in 2010, and the challenge that lies ahead for Bryant is one that even his skills will be  maxed out.

Yes, the Lakers appear to be second fiddle to their Staples Center counterparts, the Los Angeles Clippers. While the Clippers continue their rise to prominence, the demise for The Lakers is being written.

Things look bleak, but somewhere in the thick clouds of despair lies a silver-lined plan that may shorten the Lakers’ rebuild period.

You can’t mention the Lakers without the Black Mamba. As we discussed, not only has he carried the torch of winning, but his recent contract of two-years, $48 million dictates much of their future.

Once that contract leaves the books, the Lakers may suddenly look like a prime destination again. Even next year’s cap space will be an asset with Bryant still on the books.

The Lakers have signed most of their players to one-year deals, and movable contracts to shed more cap room. Los Angeles could have more than $25 million to sign players in the 2015 free agent class.

There are a few players that could help Los Angeles immediately return to elite status. Pending the health of Bryant, the Lakers could be eyeing a new “Big Three.”

Two players that could be added as a trio are Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol. Their skills and abilities would complement the Lakers perfectly, and offer them a formidable lineup.

Gasol brings toughness, defense, and veteran leadership. Gay provides the Lakers with one of the best athletes on the perimeter, who is improving his scoring efficiency.

Another tandem that the Lakers could create includes DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo, two other major 2015 free agents. Both players are defensive-minded, and Rondo provides a floor general to a team with point guard questions going into the years after Bryant retires.

With Los Angeles filling in their roster around the core of these players, Byron Scott can truly get back to the “Laker Way” of competing year in and year out.

Despite coming off a franchise worst record (27-55) and many questions going into this season, the Lakers have the league’s two most important resources for players: Money and brand name. Being able offer players the contract they desire, and a chance to build your brand.

Look at a player like Nick Young, who has become a household name with the Lakers. He also was able to get a good contract in the process (five years, $19.3 million).

What his contract shows players is that Los Angeles will take care you, and make you a recognizable face all over the world. Young players that will enter free agency after this season will recognize this opportunity, and their agents will move in on the chance.

The Lakers must trust their methods, though. It could create a quick turnaround, and send Kobe Bryant off the right way, chasing a sixth ring.

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Tags: Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers NBA Free Agency

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