The Los Angeles Lakers return to the practice court on Wednesday, as the NBA All-Star break officially concludes and teams across North America take to the hardwood and resume practices. Though Kobe Bryant will likely get the day off due to his participation in Toronto's exhibition game, the remaining 27 games of the season will be highlighted as Bryant's final 27 games with the Lakers.
A career that spanned two full decades now boils down to two months. In truth, two months from Wednesday's practice will be four days after the Lakers wrap up their 2015-16 season. Bryant has the finish line in his sights. And luck for LA, the remainder of Bryant's career only features nine games away from Staples Center and Los Angeles.
Before Bryant's swan song resumes with full force on Friday when Bryant faces the San Antonio Spurs for the last time, the NBA's trade deadline arrives on Thursday.
In recent years, the Lakers have not been notably active at the trade deadline. A couple seasons ago, LA traded Steve Blake for MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. That trade hardly had a lasting impact on LA, as both acquired players departed that same summer. Prior to the aforementioned trade in 2014, the Lakers acquired Ramon Sessions at the deadline in a trade that involved Luke Walton and Jason Kapono back in 2012.
Based on recent history, LA should not be expected to pull the trigger on any trades. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has a habit of saving his bullets for the summer time. In 2012, Kupchak executed blockbuster trades for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. In 2014, LA brought in Jeremy Lin via trade. In 2015, the front office landed Roy Hibbert via trade.
While none of the Lakers' summer trades have panned out in recent years, they have displayed a notable trend of moving pieces in the summer over the winter, though the weather in LA feels like summer these days. Of course, Kupchak could buck the trend with one phone call, but the Lakers do not appear too anxious to move any of their young talent. As long as that is the case, any trades that do take place should not have a major impact on the future of the franchise.
The Lakers expect to be constantly mentioned in rumors until the clock strikes 12 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. Then, Bryant's farewell tour will trump just about any other story that gets tossed the Lakers' way: Only 27 games to go.
The Lakers have accumulated a record of 11-44, which is bad enough for dead last in the Western Conference and only loses out to the Philadelphia 76ers' dismal 8-45 record for the NBA's worst record at the All-Star break.