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Raja Bell shows misplaced priorities by selecting Utah over the Lakers

July 14, 2010 |  9:52 pm

Now Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell can go back to hating each other again. Despite Bryant's plan to meet with him Wednesday and persuade Bell to join the Lakers, he instead chose Utah.

The decision clearly shows that Bell values money and stability, rather than getting a shot at winning the title. Bell accepted a three-year offer reportedly worth $10 million, and the Lakers can offer no more than the $1.77 million remaining on their mid-level exception.

I don't have a problem with players looking out for their long-term future, particularly with a possible lockout looming after the 2010-11 season. But this is a different circumstance. A season after the Warriors waived him once he opted to have season-ending surgery on his injured wrist, Bell should've been jumping at any chance he could get to join the Lakers. At Utah, Bell joins a team that lost Carlos Boozer to Chicago and has a long-held reputation for being incredibly consistent in making the playoffs but ultimately falling short.

As far as the Lakers are concerned, they could've used Bell's defensive toughness and the acquisition would've served as another example that Bryant loves players that have had physical confrontations with him, including Ron Artest, because that means they'll carry the same mentality with the Lakers. Nonetheless, the Lakers' failed attempt to get Bell won't make or break their fortunes. The Lakers had already improved their backcourt by signing Steve Blake and securing Derek Fisher. Now it's possible they'll reconsider keeping Shannon Brown, whom the team loves for his attitude, athleticism and upside despite his inconsistency on offense and defense.

At the end of the day, the Lakers have the easiest sales pitch in emphasizing that joining their team gives them a shot at a ring. And with Bell choosing otherwise, he clearly shows he values the size of the contract instead.

-- Mark Medina

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