Kobe Bryant finished his career over a year ago, and from basically the moment it ended people have been asking one question: When is he coming back to the Lakers?
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson has been chief among those openly theorizing about when Bryant might return. Johnson recently hung out with Bryant at a Los Angeles Sparks game, and has been saying since February (aka before he even had his current job) how Bryant would be the first call he would make to help the Lakers if he were in charge.
Well now Johnson is in charge, and he told Sirius XM Radio NBA this week that Bryant wants to help.
"Kobe wants to be a part of it," Johnson said (as transcribed by Kyle Boone of CBS Sports). "He wants to be involved, and I told him any kind of way he wants to be involved. We don't want him to come into work every day, no. We just want his expertise and pick his brain and also, show me or tell me what's missing. So then I can say, 'OK, hey, maybe I missed that. I'm going to jump on that.' He got great ideas, so we going to implement a plan where we can have him involved."
How would Bryant be involved? Well, the Lakers front office has already said how much they want him to work out with Brandon Ingram, something Ingram wants to do as well, and he explained why during an interview on Locked on Lakers:
“Just building up on information. Just seeing how I can go into my second year. Just trying to see the different things that he did in his second year in the position he was in, how he handled it. Just the way he looks at the game,” Ingram said.
“I just want to see it from his point of view and see how much easier it is to score the basketball, and on the defensive end what I need to put forward just the different points.”
Outside of a job as Ingram’s personal trainer, it’s clear that Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka is extremely tight with Bryant (his former client), and will probably be picking his brain throughout his tenure with the Lakers. That’s another way Bryant could aid his former team without coming in to work every day, and it from Johnson’s comments it sounds like that’s a way he wants Bryant to help him as well.
There are tons of ways outside of those two that Bryant could help his former team, but what doesn’t seem to be on the table for Bryant any time soon is a formal role with the Lakers. Based on his comments, it sounds like Johnson and the rest of the front office are just fine with that.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.