Lakers move on without Kobe Bryant, hope to earn postseason spot with win over Houston

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Summer 2012 is starting to feel like a long time ago for the Los Angeles Lakers. A team that once looked so promising, and looked to be in perfect position to make a run at an NBA Championship, now finds itself in a position it didn’t expect. 

The Lakers have one remaining game on the schedule, a home game against the Houston Rockets, and a win ensures a playoff berth. But for this particular Lakers team, what happens in this calendar season doesn’t matter as much as what happens moving forward.

The Lakers are filled with looming questions, and large ones at that.

Dwight Howard is still a free agent come summertime, and though it’s likely he stays in Los Angeles, the question becomes whether or not he actually will, or if he’s the franchise player the Lakers want to build around. 

Pau Gasol has been logging quality minutes for the Lakers, but he’s only a few weeks removed from talks of him potentially requesting a trade in the summer. And with a team like the Lakers that has so many problems, Pau is one of the few remaining tradable assets. 

Earl Clark is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. With his emergence it’s fair to assume he’ll have a few teams asking for his contributions, and does a Lakers franchise that’s already in luxury tax purgatory pay Clark what the market could potentially demand?

What about Steve Nash and Metta World Peace?  

And, lastly, what about Kobe Bryant?

The five-time champion that has been the face of the franchise for the last decade. The champion who’s future seems very unknown at this point. I have no doubt Bryant will return to the game of basketball. He’s too competitive to not try to finish his career on his own terms. But what will he look like when he does return? And how will his final chapter read?

It’s probably still too early for doom and gloom in Hollywood. But in a city known for its storytelling, the way this one plays out might affect the story of the Lakers for a few years to come.