- 06/06/2007, 02:27PM ET
Ian Thomsen said 06/06, 02:27 PM
Where would he go? Though Kobe briefly demanded a trade last week, he surely understands the following laws of NBA nature: Only eight franchises have won championships over the past 27 years, and the Lakers -- with eight of those trophies in their case -- are the winningest of them; less than half of the teams are serious about trying to win in the future, which means he could easily wind up with an owner who cares more about using Kobe to sell tickets than to overtake San Antonio; and the Lakers remain one of those rare destinations capable of attracting stars, providing Bryant with the kind of hope he wouldn't realize in Denver or Salt Lake City. Most management teams would look at Bryant's $19.5 million salary in 2007-08 (to be further bloated by a 15 percent trade kicker) as an excuse to hold down costs elsewhere, but the Lakers have shown that they are willing to spend around Kobe in pursuit of a title. Here's the most practical reason for staying, though: Any rival team would have to gut its current roster in order to trade for Kobe, likely stranding him with less help and in a less desirable situation than he knows now. It's a good thing he changed his mind when he did.
Chris Mannix's Boxing Blog said 06/06, 02:29 PM
The Kobe Bryant Era in Los Angeles is over -- or at least it should be. It's not that I believe that the Lakers could get anything other than 75 cents on the dollar for their mercurial superstar, it's just that no matter what trades the Lakers make, they are unlikely to get much better. Say there is truth to the Jermaine O'Neal rumors. The Lakers would swap their starting power forward (Lamar Odom) and their best prospect (Andrew Bynum) for another star with a lot of miles on his tires. Does O'Neal make the Lakers better? Maybe. Does he improve them enough to leapfrog Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas or Houston? Nope. I woud send Kobe to the Midwest -- Chicago -- where he wants to play and where the Lakers could get the most value. A package of Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni (via sign and trade) and the ninth pick in the draft for Byrant and the 19th pick would leave the Bulls with a Bryant-Kirk Hinrich-Tyrus Thomas-Ben Wallace core, plus a decent pick in a deep draft and some young talent on the bench.
Ian Thomsen said 06/07, 02:38 PM
A trade like that would leave Bryant in arguably worse shape, with no complementary All-Star and a front line of Thomas and Wallace that will heap more pressure on Bryant offensively. The real question is whether Bryant wants to leave; I don't think he does. When he demanded a trade for a few hours he was just putting his foot down and demanding action from the Lakers to win now. He got their attention and thus quickly recanted his demand, with the result that the front office is now seeking moves to supply Bryant with veteran help. My feeling is that they aren't necessarily far away from contention: They already have one of the best coaches in Phil Jackson, arguably the best player in Bryant and a playmaking star in Odom who can either complement the rest of the team or be packaged in a trade. It's going to require a few shrewd moves, but if the Lakers add three steady rotation players via the midlevel exception, a smart trade and a strong draft pick, they could quickly empower Bryant to become dangerous in the playoffs.
Chris Mannix's Boxing Blog said 06/07, 02:39 PM
Anything can happen in the NBA: witness the ascension of the Spurs to dynasty status built around one superstar, a late first-round pick (Tony Parker) and a second-round pick (Manu Ginobili). But while the situation Bryant would be in with Chicago would arguably be comparable to the one he has in L.A. (though I would argue it would be stronger), let's not forget: Kobe would be in the Eastern Conference. We???ve seen what one superstar can do in the sister conference, and who's to say Kobe -- with more quality parts around him than LeBron James -- wouldn't immediately make the Bulls the conference favorite? And once you get in the Finals, well, anything can happen.
Ian Thomsen said 06/09, 10:22 AM
Bryant knows exactly who he's dealing with in L.A.: in the owner???s box, the front office and on the bench. Moving to another franchise needing to rebuild around him (after trading away key pieces to acquire him) would require him to spend valuable years building new relationships. Why pursue a new marriage when he's already with a rich team that aims to win championships and is willing to spend? That's hard to find today, and Bryant isn't taking it for granted -- which is why he reversed course on his trade demand. If the Lakers haven't made improvements over the next two years then Bryant may opt out and leave as a free agent, but right now I'm betting he's a Laker for life.
Chris Mannix's Boxing Blog said 06/11, 02:38 PM
The bottom line in L.A. is that Kobe has worn out his welcome. Owner Jerry Buss tired of Shaq and when he felt the Diesel was over the hill he didn???t hesitate to move him. The 28-year old Bryant is nowhere near O???Neal???s age when he was traded, but Kobe is an old 28, having entered the league at 17 and annually ranking among the leaders in minutes. His body is due for a breakdown. If the Lakers aren???t going to be able to bring in help -- substantial help -- then they should rebuild around a core of Bynum, Gordon, Deng, Odom and a couple of draft picks.
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