Thursday, October 11, 2007
Be Careful What You Wish For
So the big news of the day is that Lakers owner Jerry Buss is open to trading Kobe Bryant. This, of course, re-heats the Kobe trade rumors that started up when KB demanded (albeit softly) to be traded back in May.
Wonder what changed Doc Buss' mind. Buss has made it all too clear since the spring that Bryant was untouchable and would not be traded. The lesson, as always, is that no player in the NBA is untouchable. No one.
In my opinion, Buss looks at the fact that the options for improving the team are limited, what with the Lakers being over the cap by almost $15 million and no tradeable assets outside of Kobe, Lamar Odom, and the unfulfilled potential that is Andrew Bynum. Seriously, who else would you want off that roster?
That's the real reason the Lakers didn't get Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O'Neal (not yet at least), and in the latter case, O'Neal would not have vaulted L.A. to the upper elite in the West and would have handcuffed the Lakers payroll even worse than it is now, meaning they would have been stuck with Kobe and J.O. and no one else. That may work in Boston this year, not in the Western Conference.
Add to the fact of Kobe's unhappiness, and you can somewhat see how Buss might be a little ready to grant Kobe's wish. Doc and Kobe know this team is not any good and can't get any better outside of the draft (which is a great time to mention the fact that the Lakers draft horribly), so the best option would be to find the best available deal and let Kobe go while venturing straight into rebuilding mode.
The bigger issue here (which I discussed back in August) is that there is absolutely no place for Kobe to go. He missed his chance to sign with a talented team on the rise when he resigned with the Lakers instead of signing with the neighbor Clippers in '04. New homes for Bryant are insufficient at this point:
1. The Chicago Bulls, Kobe's preferred destination, have the pieces to get him, but it would take enough players to get him that would gut their core and leave them with a unit very similar to what the Lakers have now. One pro here is that he'll be in the East (the same East in which the one-man show that was the Cavs made it to the Finals last season).
2. The New York Knicks wouldn't be able to get their heads out of their own asses to make a competent deal for Kobe. I'm befuddled at this franchise (if you wanna call it that). If Allan Houston sucked so bad when you were trying to get rid of him two years ago, why even entertain the thought of bringing him back to the team. I'm sorry, I'm ranting.
3. Kobe reportedly would like to go to Dallas (which would literally scare the shit out of me as a Rockets fan), which would really work. The Mavs would only have to part with Erick Dampier and Jason Terry, according to ESPN's NBA Trade Machine. Dampier is an overpaid disappointment and Terry was an underachieving 'tweener last postseason. The Mavericks wouldn't have to gut their 67-win squad to pit Kobe with Dirk and Josh Howard, and they'll finally have a crunch-time killer. (On second thought, let's make sure this doesn't happen, please. PLEASE!!!)
The question is, would the Lakers want to take back two large contracts for two players that have no chance at being impact stars in the long term? Hmmm.
I'm of the belief that once it was realized that Kobe could only take this D-league roster so far and that Doc Buss and his sons were prostituting the prime of the league's best player, Kobe no longer was the untouchable star people said he was. No one is "untouchable". Shaq got traded for god's sake. Wilt, A.I., etc.
MJ was forced out of Chicago, people. It's not impossible for somebody to ship Kobe's bratty ass out of town to improve the franchise in the long term.