Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kobe Talk

What a strange couple of days. Kobe has demanded a trade, posted something on his website disclaiming this, then went on the air and demanded a trade (telling Stephen A. Scream, err, Smith that there was no way out), then posted something on his website that was a lot like a goodbye letter, and then went on Dan Patrick's show and said that bringing in Jerry West would help a lot.

Strange stuff. And let me first say that I have no sympathy for Kobe, which I wrote about right after the Suns series.

That aside, there are a lot of things to consider. I am going to start with the most prominent question in my inbox which is "oh please tell me that Portland won't trade for him" and move through some other thoughts. As usual, this will come in the form of a list, that way I'm not held to any standards of coherence.

1. The Blazers won't trade for Kobe.

Is it weird that I'm starting off talking about the Blazers? Maybe, but Portland is the center of the action right now. They have the top pick, they have trade pieces, and they are setting up to be the Next Gen Spurs. And Blazers fans are terrified that the whole thing might be ruined by Kobe Bryant.

They need not fear. The Blazers aren't going to bring in someone disruptive to the culture of the team, they aren't going to bring in a guy who wants/needs to win now when the rest of the roster is on a different time line, and they aren't going to trade the #1 pick, which is probably what would be required (although they shouldn't trade Roy either). Meanwhile, as my buddy Josh Stump points out, the Lakers are just as unlikely to move Bryant within the division or the conference, so this seems to have 0% chance of happening. Rest easy, Portland.

2. Perhaps no one will trade for Kobe.

I got the sense even before the Patrick interview that despite what feels like the End of Days right now, this could blow over and Kobe will wind up staying in L.A. I'm not sure there is a good trade match out there and while he is burning bridges like crazy, I think he's just blowing off steam.

Also, I've got a crazy conspiracy theory that might explain why this is happening (and why there seem to be so many zigs and zags). What if Stern put Buss and Bryant up to this, WWE-style? Interest in the playoffs is flagging, the Draft lottery spurned the Celtics and left all the joy in the Northwest which doesn't help the NBA as much, and the weakest free agent class in recent memory is about to roll off the assembly line, complete with a rapidly depreciating Chauncey Billups at the top of the list. In fact, the ongoing NBA story this summer is set to be "Stern is screwing up his league" or some such angle that connects the dots of the the brutal officiating, the incessant flopping, and the atrocious Amare/Diaw suspensions. He knows he's blowing it by focusing all his energies on overseas expansion and marketing and that he's alienated the U.S. fan base. He may not care THAT much, but if there is a quick fix, he will go for it. This is the same guy that jump started NBA coverage last October by introducing a new, crappy ball for no reason at all. So what if he put the Lakers up to this? This will be THE story until it is resolved and since the media can always be blamed, all parties have an out should they "miraculously" find common ground. I know it is unlikely and that Bryant sounds legitimately angry and ready to burn as many bridges as possible, but I don't want to rule out the possibility that this whole thing is rigged to keep the attention on the NBA while deflecting from all of the league's ineptness. Think about it: all summer we can talk about this, wonder where he might be traded, and then - oh wow! - he's still a Laker and nobody spent months talking about much Stern sucks. (Note: I'm not suggesting that Stern wants Kobe traded, but that he wants this to be the story of the summer with a happy ending.)

3. Teams That Should Trade for Kobe

Utah - Many have already disagreed with this in email, IM, and cell phone conversation, but I believe the Jazz should dangle AK-47, some young guys (Brewer, Millsap), and a future first rounder and hope to get lucky. Williams, Bryant, and Boozer would probably win a title within the next three years. I know Kobe doesn't appear to be a Sloan guy, but both are competitive to the point of being alienating so I actually think it could work. Bryant in Salt Lake City doesn't strike me as a match made in heaven, but whatever. KG lives in Malibu five months out of the year, so team locale is overrated. And lets not paint the Jazz fans as holier than thou, considering they tried to brain Steve Javie the other night. I think they can live with an accused rapist.

New Jersey - The Nets should absolutely try to work out a sign-and-trade with Vince and tack on Kristic and a pick. They might pull off a miracle if the Lakers get desperate and go the "sell tickets" route and Kobe might be intrigued by the prospect of playing with Kidd and moving to Brooklyn.

(My man Stump adds: "True. Maybe the Lakers are that stupid/desperate and they bring out Vince and Kobe gets his wish to play with Kid and the two of them run around high fiving each other in excitement until they realize that none of the rest of the players on their team would start for UNC next year. NJ gets to move to Brooklyn with full houses every night to watch Jay Z playing grab ass with Kobe before the Nets get run out of the building game after game.")

Boston - The Celtics should offer Pierce and all of their overrated young players not named Al Jefferson and see if they can pull something off. I doubt it, but you never know. With Big Al and the #5 pick, Kobe might think he can lead Boston back to respectability in a weaker conference. He's probably wrong, but it would be fun to see him fail. Plus, going from the Lakers to the Celtics would be worse than Finley choosing to play in San Antonio or Johnny Damon going from the Sox to the Yanks. It would reveal him to be a mercenary of Roger Clemens proportions.

Phoenix - If Phoenix can get the Lakers to swallow Marion/Diaw/picks,
they have to do it. If that doesn't work, they can offer Marion/Barbosa/picks and probably get it done. This might be the best offer L.A. gets now that they have the proverbial gun to their head and a weak bargaining position. The Suns with Nash, Bell, Bryant, Amare, Diaw/Barbosa and Whoever would be pretty much unstoppable. Unless Kobe shoots them out of games or he fights to the death with Raja Bell, either of which is entirely possible.

4. Teams that should NOT try to get him.

Portland - Obviously.

Denver - The fans might revolt; plus, how exactly would Iverson and Kobe coexist? (Stump adds: This may send the wrong message to the fans. "If you can't convict 'em, join 'em" isn't much of a slogan for an NBA franchise.")

Washington - I'd take the younger and more likable Arenas any day.

Houston - I know Kobe is more durable and a better "closer" than T-Mac, but McGrady is finally understanding how to lead, how to win, and how to make people better. With a better coach for the Rockets in place and the possibility of some new blood, they have to let T-Mac keep growing with this team. To swap him out for Bryant would be a big mistake and the surest way to stunt Yao's progress forever.

Dallas - The Mavs need to add a small piece or two, not blow up the team. (Although I'm kind of changing my opinion on this.)

Chicago - The Bulls need to save their ammo for a lowpost scorer, which I've been pleading for all year. They need Gasol or KG or even Zach Randolph more than Kobe. Plus, can you imagine him in a Bulls uniform? As if he hasn't been trying to be Jordan hard enough already. I might


jessica said...

I can't express how strongly I disagree that Phoenix should try to get Bryant. Maybe I'm just blind and biased, but as a Suns fan, I don't like it...

Christina said...

I agree with Jessica. I'm not even primarily a Suns fan (the Kings are my team, but seeing as they sucked hard enough to not make the playoffs, I instead focused on my second favorite team, the Suns) but the last thing they need is someone like Kobe. What the Suns need is a player who is good enough to deliver in the playoffs but not someone with an ego as huge as Kobe's who would expect the entire team to basically bow down to him...

Anonymous said...

you're right the Suns don't need a proven Champion.

Garry Shuck said...

The Suns are my favorite team, and Kobe Bryant is my least favorite player in the league. From a pure basketball standpoint though, I think if they can get him while keeping Nash, and Amare they should.

That said, I don't think he's going anywhere. As giddy as I was to hear his interview with Stephen A. yesterday morning with all it's potential for Laker-drama, they're not going to trade him, and certainly not to the Suns.

Not sure about that whole conspiracy thing (fun to speculate on, though), but yeah, the snorefest that is Utah/SA is over, we're down to no more than 10 games remaining in the season, and no one is actually watyhing the games.

Did you see Greg Anthony last night complaining how he is tired of hearing the "they're boring, the Suns are sexy crap" about the Spurs. His take: "They're a sexy team, because winning is sexy". What's that old saying about putting lipstick on a pig?

Anonymous said...

The Spurs aren't sexy because they are cheap shot artists, and not to mention scoring 85 points a night isn't sexy!
Did anyone see Harpring trying to post up Bowen down 20+? He was backing Bowen down and Bowen extended his foot under Harps so when Harp backed in for position he fell.... Unf'ing believable...

Anonymous said...

Geez, i realize Phoenix is in the Desert but when will the Suns fans get all of the sand out of the vaginas?

This article is about Kobe wanting to be traded not how dirty Bowen is........

Anonymous said...

Pretty weak conspiracy talk with Stern/Lakers/Kobe, your other entries are better than this, except when you keep whining about the Spurs/Suns series. That gets old. Nash is over it...He invited Horry to play in his charity golf tournament. Otherwise, little chance Kobe's going anywhere, he's just now realizing nothing was gonna happen this offseason with moving Odom or Kwame and Phil is still content with getting his $10mil/year

jessica said...

LOL, Nash isn't over anything. I don't think he ever cared about the foul that much in the first place - well, obviously he cared in the heat of the moment, but I don't think it bothered him deep down.

Everything else though? With the suspensions and everything? Oh he still cares.

Anonymous said...

jessica said...
I can't express how strongly I disagree that Phoenix should try to get Bryant. Maybe I'm just blind and biased, but as a Suns fan, I don't like it...

Well ehhem the only reason i could come up with for you not lking bryant is for him (Dunking on nash,Hitting game winner and you are a hater) if suns fans could get past that about to be two years ago issue then this could actually work quite great