The Los Angeles Lakers’ highly-anticipated season has yet to begin, and already, the hype for the team two years from now is well underway. Even Laker front-office types can’t help themselves. Per the OC Register: “We purposely ended all contracts that year,’ Buss said. ‘I can’t talk about Kobe (Bryant), but this is what he signed till. So basically we put everything to that, and we want to make a big splash in the free-agent market if we get to that spot. So we designed the contracts and the players and our future all around that.’ That makes for a completely viable scenario wherein Bryant retires in 2014 – and LeBron James signs a free-agent contract to replace him on the Lakers’ marquee. […] Buss specifically did not mention anyone by name and wouldn’t be allowed to because of NBA tampering rules. Yet if Bryant steps aside, the Lakers envision having a re-signed Dwight Howard with Steve Nash in the final year of his new contract and some new, incredibly potent blood. ‘Yeah, depending on the free agents that year,’ Buss said. ‘We would basically, money-wise, be able to sign the top free agent – maybe even two. I don’t know the numbers exactly, because we’re not privy to what the cap is and how much room we have, but it’s going to be close to two of the top free agents that year.’ […] If Bryant, then 36, is amenable to returning in 2014, the Lakers’ changes could be put on hold a year for that reason, too. Or Bryant could return at a heavily discounted rate that might allow the Lakers still to sign James or another new star to team with Bryant, Howard and Nash. The possibilities are enough to make a Lakers fan dizzy – even before possible champagne bottles are opened with Bryant, Gasol, Howard and Nash these upcoming two seasons. Buss said it had been ‘a little scary’ to contemplate beyond two seasons … until the acquisition of Howard. ‘Because if we don’t win championships (in 2013 and ’14), we basically failed,’ Buss said. ‘But with Dwight hopefully wanting to stay with the Lakers, we feel our horizon is bright.'”
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