Metta World Peace’s message to his Los Angeles Lakers teammates on Tuesday was clear: Stop relying so much on Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers were eliminated in five games by the Oklahoma City Thunder after Monday’s 106-90 loss, the second year in a row Los Angeles’ season ended in the NBA playoffs’ second round.
“I think guys need to trust themselves more. I think some guys — not myself — look to Kobe too much,” World Peace said during exit interviews Tuesday. Bryant will speak later this week.
Bryant scored a game-high 42 points but had no assists Monday. He was noticeably upset with Pau Gasol on at least two occasions late in the fourth quarter for deferring. After a 103-100 loss in Game 4, Bryant criticized Gasol for not looking for his shot and instead committing a crucial turnover as the Lakers were outscored by 14 points in the final eight minutes.
General manager Mitch Kupchak has key decisions to make in the offseason with Gasol and fellow 7-footer Andrew Bynum, Matt Barnes, Jordan Hill, Ramon Sessions and Devin Ebanks.
Kupchak has said despite immaturity problems with Bynum, the team will pick up his $16.1 million option for 2012-13 before the June 30 deadline. Whether the Lakers can or want to sign him to an extension is uncertain.
Gasol, who was on the trading block for most of the season, is owed $38 million for the next two years. Barnes and Hill are unrestricted free agents, Sessions has a $4.5 million player option, and Ebanks is restricted and would earn a little more than $1 million.
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SOURCE: USA Today
J. Michael Falgoust