At 8-28, the Lakers 2015-16 season is ending nowhere other than with a high pick in the 2016 NBA Draft lottery. When it becomes clear that a team’s season is over, the focus usually shifts to grooming younger players in the hopes of priming them for the future. But these are the Lakers, and these are the Lakers with Kobe Bryant on his grand farewell tour.

“Under normal circumstances [in a season like this], at some point, you would probably concentrate on just developing all your young players,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes on Tuesday. “But we can’t do that right now.”

“This [season] is really a justified farewell to perhaps the best player in franchise history. And, God-willing, he’s going to want to play every game and he’s going to want to play a lot of minutes in every game, because that’s just the way he is.”

With the eyes of many Lakers fans turned towards the development of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, does it make sense for the team to still focus on the fast-fading Bryant even as he says goodbye to the league that made him a star?

“Every game, it’s about Kobe. Even when he doesn’t play, it’s about Kobe. So in a lot of regards, there’s a silver lining that our guys can develop under the radar and maybe make a mistake or make two mistakes and it not be a big deal.”

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers

Kupchak still believes free agents will be attracted to the Lakers because of the promise the young players have shown even during their limited exposure this season.

“At the end of the day, last summer, we were trying to sell to free agents — ‘Come to LA, we have plenty of cap room, we have the No. 2 draft pick, we have a player we drafted No. 7 [overall] who didn’t play this year who we think is going to be a heck of a player, and we’ve got Kobe, who is going to turn 36’… A veteran free agent really needs to hear more than that, especially if he’s giving up a lot of money. He needs to see more of a core than the No. 2 pick, whom he may not even know who he is, and a player that got hurt in the first game of the season, and the rest of the guys that we had on the team and Kobe who hadn’t played in two years. That’s a tough pitch to a free agent.”

The good news for free agents thinking about signing with the Lakers is that there likely will be another high draft pick in the fold… unless it’s not in the Top 3 that is. 

In that sense, maybe this season should still be all about Kobe.

[ESPN]

About Matt Lichtenstadter

Recent Maryland graduate. I've written for many sites including World Soccer Talk, GianlucaDiMarzio.com, Testudo Times, Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog and more. Houndstooth is still cool, at least to me. Follow me @MattsMusings1 on Twitter, e-mail me about life and potential jobs at matthewaaron9 at Yahoo dot com.