OK, so now we’re on the third version of Kobe Bryant’s frustration with the Lakers front office. Arguably the best player of his generation has gone from demanding a trade, to wanting to be a Laker for life, to wanting to be traded again. This past weekend Bryant met with Lakers owner Jerry Buss in Spain and reiterated that he would like to play elsewhere next year.
I’m just going to say what we all already know: Kobe Bryant is will not be playing anywhere else next season. The Lakers will not move him, and the only chance he goes elsewhere is if he opts out of his contract after the 2008-09 season. The problem for teams (and fans) who are convinced the Lakers would move Bryant for the right price, is that they can’t possibly get equal value in return for one of the games most recognizable stars (unless they got Dwayne Wade or LeBron James, which won’t happen). It would be franchise suicide. Plus, do you really think Mitch Kupchak wants to be known as the guy who traded Shaq and Kobe?
Bryant is asking to be traded because he wants to force the organization’s hand. He wants them to make moves to surround him with top tier talent. The wheels are actually in motion on a deal that would bring Kobe’s good friend Jermaine O’Neal to L.A., but at the moment the talks are stalled. O’Neal has told everyone who will listen that he wants to be a Laker and wants to play with Kobe. As the draft approaches, and Bryant continues to stonewall, expect the Lakers to give in and surrender both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to get the deal done.
Despite the obvious evidence that this is a ploy by Bryant, and that the Lakers would be nuts to get rid of him, columnists keep trying to convince us that Kobe is headed out of town.
ESPN’s Chris Sheridan is absolutely positive that Bryant is as good as gone. He even dedicated a large portion of a recent column to the premise that Kobe to the Knicks would be a great deal for both franchises. Yeah, spoken like a true Knick fan Chris. Here’s a little excerpt from that piece, which you can’t read unless you’re an ESPN Insider:
“What the Knicks lack in quality, they have in quantity. In terms of volume, Isiah could overwhelm almost any other offer out there, starting with combo guard Jamal Crawford, rebounding machine David Lee, Knicks starting power forward Channing Frye, a pair of unprotected No. 1 picks (let’s say 2008 and 2010) and sundry throw-ins, including Nate Robinson, Randolph Morris, Renaldo Balkman, et al.”
Chris I have just one question for you; Dude, are you FU*KING NUTS?!?
Oh, it gets better:
“There’s no superstar in here, but it’s a lot of lumber. And if you’re rebuilding you need a cache of young talent.”
Right, because that formula and those players have worked so well for the Knicks. And I’m sure the genius Laker-PR machine, that did such a great job selling the Shaq-to-Miami deal to their fans, would have a blast pumping up the Jamal Crawford-Channing Frye-Renaldo Balkman combo to the people paying $2000 a night for court side seats. That trade proposal is nothing more than the sad pipe-dream of a life-long Knicks fan. Sorry Chris, not gonna happen.
The other thing that’s pissed me off is all the Bulls fans trying to convince me that Kobe is headed there for roughly 40 cents on the dollar. They all somehow thing the Lakers would part with the most dynamic player in the league for Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Chris Duhon (who the Bulls are trying to dump), Andres Nocioni (via a sign and trade) and the No. 9 pick. I’m sorry Bulls fans but Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss would never, repeat NEVER sign off on that deal unless Loul Deng was added to it in place of Nocioni. And I don’t think John Paxson is dumb enough to part with 3/4ths of his roster to obtain Bryant.
As far as I’m concerned this is all a ploy to motivate the clusterf*ck that is the Laker front office. In the days before the draft, the Lakers will bring several trade proposals to Bryant and ask if that will be enough to placate him. Even if it means going over the luxury tax – something he has never wanted to do – Buss will do whatever it takes to satisfy his star. Why? Because he promised him something and the organization did another. Buss is a stand up guy when it comes to his employees and other than the Shaq situation (which he clearly regrets), he always does right by his players. He feels he owes Bryant in this situation, and he’s right.
But I want to be clear here, if Bryant does go somewhere else, I will definitely reiterate my trade demand.