First & foremost, let’s get one thing straight: I’m a fan of both the Lakers, and of Kobe’s. Doesn’t stop me from having negative opinions about either tho’…
So trade rumors abound in regards to one Kobe Bryant.
Will he go to Chicago?
Will he go to Boston?
Will he go to Phoenix…
blah blah blah
blah blah blah
blah blah blah.
It sounds as if most pundits out there ‘believe’ that Kobe is the power that decides if & when the Lakers trade him. Friends ‘n’ neighbors, he doesn’t. Sure, he can impact decisions made (and Kobe does wield a helluva lotta power – far more than the average superstar), but the when the sun sets, the man who’ll be making the decisions is Jerry Buss. And at the end of that day, Kobe remaining in Los Angeles is what’s best for the Los Angeles Lakers (for now), and – believe it or not – for Kobe Bryant. And I think he knows that. Still… at the end of the day, will he still be there? I don’t know… but I think so.
Let’s explore, shall we?
The LA Lakers are like very few (no other?) franchises in the NBA. Even during a ‘rebuilding phase’ (heaven forefend), the residents of LA LA land cannot afford to not have a player of superstar stature on the team. The bottom line for the purple ‘n’ gold is that there has to be someone that justifies the patrons shelling out thousands of dollars for those seats next to Jack, and sorry – but
Ben Gordon Jamal Crawford just ain’t gonna do it. Kobe does. Like him or not (and probably no player in the NBA polarizes peope as much as Kobe does), he is probably the best player in the NBA. Any trade that gets done (for Kobe + junk) has to bring in bona fide hand-clappin’, dollar-pullin’ star quality… which cuts out about 99% of the league’s players, other than being fillers in the end deal.
Who would do it (as far as getting the high-priced bums-on-seats)? Lebron’d be of that caliber, so would D-Wade… but both are untouchable. Of all the names floating around as far as being places of interest for Kobe, only Chicago would be a logical trading partner for LA… and that’s not going to happen. Not if Jerry’s thinking straight and doesn’t sell Kobe for 75 cents on the dollar. And as long as Dr Buss’s running the show (and not the idiot-savant son, Jim), I
hope pray believe think something will be done to assuage Kobe, at least for the next season.
The thing about trading Kobe for a cheap deal is that you devalue the LA franchise. You’re not going to get Lebron… you’re not going to get Dwayne Wade… you’re not going to get anywhere near what’s needed to get the value-for-money that the celebrity set are going to demand to see. And that’ll effect the income…
The thing about trading to GET Kobe is you’re probably going to have to put your franchise in hock to get him.
So… the main protagonists thus far named in the rumor-mill: New York, Chicago, Phoenix… and recently, Washington.
- New York simply doesn’t have the pieces to make this work, despite what Isiah might want. David Lee, Channing Frye and Jamal Crawford??? What are you smokin’ Mr Thomas???
- Washington – despite it being highly unlikely that Kobe would want to go to Washington & play for the Wiz (and he does have that oh-so-annoying ‘no-trade clause’), it’s equally unlikely that Agent Zero would be a sought-after piece for the Lakers. Despite his quirkiness (and I really enjoy Hibachi!), on the court he’s simply ‘Kobe-lite’.
- Phoenix – It’s highly unlikely that the Lakers would make a conference rival stronger (ignoring the fact that Kobe probably doesn’t really want to play in the West any way), let alone a divisional rival. No way in hell do they trade with the Suns.
- Chicago… the most interesting of the suggested destinations. They DO have the pieces to pull this trade off, and Kobe DOES want to play there. But, they’d have to pretty much gut the franchise to do it (Deng & Gordon?), and Paxson’s notoriously conservative when it comes to pulling off trades with his ‘boys’. Won’t happen (unless Dr Buss gets drunk… uh-oh… nah, won’t happen anyway!).
From Kobe’s perspective on being traded, maybe he does want out – but whatever destination he ends up in could end up being WORSE off than the Lakers currently are, just by virtue of GETTING Kobe they’d have to sell most of the franchise. Kobe is (whether you like him or not) probably the best player in the League, and entering his prime now (and that’s some scary stuff there!). He won’t come cheap. The Lakers aren’t going to just give him away… and nor should they.
So… the team that Kobe (should he be traded) ended up on would be so much weaker given they’d have to trade away most of their assets to get him. And I’m fairly sure that Kobe’s aware that if you’re going to be on a mediocre team, best to be in LA. Additionally, the owner they have in Jerry Buss is probably the most willing in the league to open the checkbook. Sure, he’s no Steinbrenner, but he’s probably one of the closest things the NBA has to it. If any owner in the league will throw money around to get a deal done, it’s Dr Jerry Buss.The amazing thing is that Kobe probably realizes ALL of this. So what’s with the ‘divattitude’?
There are three main trains of thought:
1. Kobe is a petulant spoilt brat, who is basically saying the first thing that comes into his head. He’s angry, and wants out. He sees the East as a way to have success relatively easily (compare Kobe’s Lakers to Lebron’s Cavs… not much difference, and if there is, the Lakers are probably the better team!).
2. Kobe is playing Machiavellian games. He knows that the Lakers will be hard-pressed to trade him. He realizes that the dummy-spitting is tarnishing his image further, but feels there is no other avenue of recourse. He cannot come right out & say “sack Kupchak, and while you’re at it get rid of Jim Buss”… but he can make it so that Jerry Buss has to pretty much choose between the two (Kobe, or Kupchak/Buss Jr.).
3. A mix of the two… Kobe is being calculating, but he does want out. He sees the way Dwayne Wade & Lebron are winning with similar teams around them as he has around him (ie. CRAP) – difference is they’re in the East. And in the East, it’s a lot easier to win with a mediocre team.
I lean towards believing the second (tho’ daily that’s getting harder to stick with), but starting to lean towards number 3. Whichever it is – I’d love to know who’s counseling Kobe to behave like this, because their advice sucks.
It could’ve been handled so much better with Kobe avoiding the rants, and perhaps even talking to people first before shooting off at the mouth, and damaging his reputation even more (and he’d done so well rebuilding it post Colorado). Sure, let folks understand your position, and put pressure on the LA front office, but with just a tad more class and decorum.
Sad thing about this is that Kobe’s right. Yes, the Lakers have been badly mis-managed. Yes, Mitch Kupchak has really, really made what was the premier franchise in the league into an also-ran. But none of this absolves Kobe from the way he’s behaved over the last month.
Drop the petulant sulky crap, and return to what’s true: basketball.