Each week, ESPN.com Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with ESPN.com NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.
1. Kevin McHale says he isn't sure Kobe Bryant can rebound from his latest injury. Byron Scott says he doesn’t see Kobe leaving his legacy on these terms. Who is closer to the reality?
Holmes: Byron is right. Kobe doesn't want to go out like this and he won't. He'll rehab and come back. What will he look like then? Hard to say. But he'll at least be out there on his own two legs at the end, which at this point is good enough considering all his body has gone through lately.
Shelburne: I think Kobe has one last comeback in him, if only because going out on a note this sour is so distasteful. But this is going to be a tough one. Not as tough as the Achilles' injury, but still very painful and frustrating nonetheless. The first few months, he won't be able to work out much at all, which is maddening for a competitor like Kobe. But after that, he should be able to train as maniacally as he usually does and come into training camp in fantastic shape. It'll all be a lot easier if there's a decent team to come back to. But that'll be up to the Lakers' front office to deliver this summer.
Markazi: Scott. There's no doubt in my mind that Kobe will be back next season. Recovery time for his surgery was thought to be five to six months, though Lakers officials said it would be nine, but he'll still be back in time for the start of training camp. Playing 20 seasons for the Lakers and walking off the court on his terms is important to him and his legacy, and he's committed to making it happen.
2. Will the recent second-half benching of Nick Young be a positive for him?
Holmes: The hopeful answer here is yes, but Young can get down on himself and struggle with bouncing back from that, so it's hard to say. Young also mentioned that all the losses have been affecting him, in that "you get tired of getting beat up." The very least he can do is show some effort on defense. If not, he deserves to stay on the bench.
Shelburne: Hard to say. So much of Young's success is dependent on his confidence, err, swag. How do you have swagger when you've been benched? At some point, however, every athlete has to deal with failure. How they bounce back and respond to it is what determines how long and successful of a career they have in this league. That's Young's challenge now.
Markazi: That's the hope. Sometimes tough love is the best love, and for Young, who laughs off everything, perhaps a benching was the best way to get through to him.
3. Should Lakers fans care that Kobe admitted he wanted to play with Michael Jordan at one time?
Holmes: Lakers fans shouldn't sweat it, because Kobe ultimately stayed in L.A. and helped bring the city more championships. Besides, it would've been pretty cool to see him team up with Jordan, even if it was in Jordan's later years. If anything, the fact that Kobe almost left underscores just how sour his relationship was with Shaquille O'Neal at that point.
Shelburne: Yes, but not in an emotional way. This wasn't a rejection of the Lakers, as some are making it out to be. This was an admission of how much Kobe really did look up to Jordan. For years, Kobe denied that he measured himself against MJ. But this year when he passed him on the all-time scoring list, he acknowledged how much Jordan inspired him. I loved that this story finally came out, as it humanizes two of the most competitive people on the planet.
Markazi: Not really. Who knows how much of that is revisionist history anyway. Either way, the fact that Kobe considered playing with Jordan in Washington or for the Clippers a decade ago doesn't really mean anything now.