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Kobe Bryant is trying to recruit an old rival, Raja Bell, to the Lakers

Bryant plans to meet Wednesday with Bell, a defensive and three-point specialist, and a sometimes bitter adversary of Bryant when Bell played for the Suns. The Lakers have little money to offer, and Bell is also in talks with Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Portland and Utah.

July 13, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

Kobe Bryant has done a lot of things in his career, winning five championships, two NBA Finals MVP trophies and a regular-season MVP award.

Now he's doing something else — recruiting for the Lakers.

Derek Fisher credited the 12-time All-Star with being a main reason to return to the Lakers, and now Bryant will put aside past differences to meet with free-agent guard Raja Bell on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Bryant once said he had "bigger fish to fry" than Bell after a squabble with the former Phoenix Suns guard, but now Bryant is hoping the Lakers can reel him in with what's left of their midlevel exception: $1.77 million next season.

Bell, who will be 34 in September, played only six games with Charlotte and Golden State last season because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, but he is a career 41.1% three-point shooter and still capable of solid on-ball defense.

Bell to the Lakers is not a sure thing. He is having discussions with five other teams — Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Portland and Utah — and will not make up his mind until next week, said his agent, Herb Rudoy.

Still, it's interesting to note that the former adversaries will be meeting Wednesday.

"I think [Bryant] has a lot of respect for Raja and Raja has a lot of respect for him," Rudoy said. "I think they would rather play with each other than against each other."

Bryant and Bell had words after a feisty regular-season game in April 2006.

"I don't even think about Raja Bell," Bryant said at the time. "I have bigger fish to fry than Raja Bell."

Bell and Bryant dialed up their rivalry a couple of weeks later in the playoffs, when Bell was suspended for a game after a hard foul on Bryant.

This summer, however, Bryant has become something of an advocate for Bell, thinking the defensive skills and toughness of the 10-year veteran would be a nice addition to the Lakers' reserves.

Morrison moving?

Free agent Adam Morrison worked out Wednesday for a handful of teams in Las Vegas, including the Clippers.

Morrison made $5.3 million last season with the Lakers and averaged 2.4 points in only 31 games. He is not expected to return to the Lakers.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Lisa Dillman contributed to this report.

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