Kobe A Clipper?

By Dave Callanan, Clippers.com | Posted: July 6th, 2004

"We think that we represent the perfect option for [Kobe]."
--Elgin Baylor
With July 1st in the rear view mirror, the NBA's free agent market is humming along at a busy pace. In what is a surprise to no one, unrestricted free agent Kobe Bryant has been tabbed the top prize this summer. There isn't an NBA franchise that wouldn't want the superstar swingman, but few have the fiscal ability to offer a deal to a player of Bryant's caliber. Count the Clippers as one of a handful of teams that can afford Kobe.

"We think that we represent the perfect option for him," Clippers VP of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor stated on Tuesday. "We have a core group of young, talented and hungry players who are committed long-term and with whom Kobe is very familiar. Who wouldn't want to play with Elton Brand?"

With media speculation at an all-time high and teams across the league rumored to make a move for Bryant, Baylor was calm and optimistic about the Clippers' chances. "We play in a city where he is loved, in a building that is state-of-the-art, and in front of a fanbase that is second to none in terms of passion and support," Elgin added. "Our team is at a point where he can make an enormous impact and be the one important piece we need to make a real statement."

How serious is the Clippers brass in their run at Kobe? "For our part," Elgin said, "we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make this as easy a decision as possible for him." However, Baylor cautions, the final decision is in Kobe's hands. "Ultimately, everybody [in the Clippers Front Office] recognizes and respects the fact that the decision is his to make."

So as everyone fixes their gaze towards the 14th, the rumors will no doubt increase until Bryant's name is on a contract. For their part, Elgin Baylor and his team hope that contract is on Clippers letterhead.