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Should Kobe be traded?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Rockets34Legend, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    From Insider:

    As a player, Kobe Bryant ranks as one of the 10 best players in the NBA.

    But given the Los Angeles Lakers' current problems, and the obstacles they face in fixing the team this summer, should owner Jerry Buss entertain a Kobe trade?

    It's not as radical as it sounds. One year ago, everyone thought that Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter were untradable. The truth is that everyone – Kobe included – is tradable if the situation is desperate enough.

    But after the Lakers went through so much turmoil and change just to get Kobe re-signed last summer, should they pull the plug so quickly on the experiment? And, are there any Kobe trades out there that even make sense for the Lakers?

    Depending on your point of view, the answer to both could be yes.

    The Case For Trading Kobe

    While Kobe's skills on the court are unquestioned, his prowess as a GM has been called into question by both the media and his own teammates.

    When asked by reporters what moves he would make in the offseason to improve the Lakers, Chucky Atkins was quick to jump on a recurring theme about Kobe's perceived role on the team.

    "I ain't the GM of this team," Atkins told reporters before the Lakers' eighth straight loss on Sunday. "Kobe's the GM of this team. Ask Kobe. You've been watching this [stuff] all year. You've been watching it and I've been playing in it."

    It's not the first time Atkins has pointed his finger at Bryant. And if Atkins is right about Kobe's sway with the front office, this is probably Atkins' last season wearing a Lakers uniform.

    Regardless of what you think about Kobe as a player, serious questions have been raised this year about his ability to single-handedly dig the Lakers out of the hole he partially created.

    Kobe and Buss still deny that Bryant played a role in the Lakers' decision to dump Shaq before Kobe re-signed with the Lakers last summer, but no one whom Insider has talked with believes that Bryant would have returned if O'Neal had. In other words, Bryant apparently forced Buss into a him-or-me decision.

    If Kobe was not behind Shaq and coach Phil Jackson's departures, he could have made a stronger case to retain them. After Buss made keeping Kobe the team's top priority, couldn't Kobe have insisted on retaining both Shaq and Phil as a condition of re-signing with the Lakers? And if Kobe disagreed with the Lakers' decision to dump Shaq and Jackson, why didn't he bolt for the Los Angeles Clippers? The Clippers offered a much more talented supporting cast.

    Regardless of who pushed for it, the perception exists among players and the media that the Lakers were doing Kobe's bidding when they cleaned house. In the short term, at least, the moves have proved problematic for the Lakers.

    Kobe was supposed to be the savior, but instead he's been the pariah for most of the season. Meanwhile, Shaq and Dwyane Wade are getting along swimmingly in Miami and together have led the Heat to the best record in the East.

    If there was any question in L.A. about which player made a bigger difference, that's been answered.

    Asked if he was surprised with the Lakers' struggles, Allen Iverson said, "There ain't no No. 34 around here no more," he said, referring to O'Neal. "There's no surprise."

    Insider's John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating (PER), as explained in his March 16 article, generally backs up Iverson's premise. Plus/minus ratings do, too.

    Shaq's PER rating this year of 27.49 ranks third in the league behind only Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Kobe's 23.63 isn't too shabby either, good enough for eighth in the league. But O'Neal's teammate Dwyane Wade now has a better PER than Kobe.

    According to the latest plus/minus statistics by 82games.com, O'Neal leads the Heat with a +6.3 plus/minus rating. Bryant ranks fifth on the Lakers with a +4.0. That hasn't really changed all that much from last season.

    In 2003-04, when Shaq and Kobe played together, Shaq led the team with a +12.1 rating. Bryant ranked fourth behind O'Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone with a +5.8.

    In the long term, the Shaq trade eventually might turn in the Lakers' favor. Lamar Odom and Caron Butler are younger, and Shaq was demanding an enormous contract extension that would have tied the Lakers' hands in the future. But in the short term, the deal has been a wreck for both the Lakers and Kobe.

    Losing Shaq isn't the only reason the Lakers are struggling. They also lost Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Derek Fisher last summer. Phil Jackson rode off into the sunset. And head coach Rudy Tomjanovich quit halfway into this season, citing health reasons.

    The additions of Odom, Butler, Atkins, Chris Mihm and Brian Grant have offset some of those losses.

    Mihm, Atkins and Butler are all having career or near-career years. And the only reason that Odom's production has slipped this year is because he takes fewer shots per game. His rebounding and field-goal percentage are at career highs.

    Yet, privately, several Lakers' players have been telling their agents for months that they want out – an unusual phenomenon on a team that most players yearned to be a part of a year ago.

    It's no secret what Atkins' beef is with Bryant. Bryant dominates the ball too much for his taste. According to Insider's Hollinger, Atkins' concerns are legitimate.

    Using a stat called Usage Rate that adds a player's shot attempts, turnovers, assists and free-throw attempts on a per-minute, pace-adjusted basis, it's clear that Bryant is a major ball hog. Only the Sixers' Allen Iverson hogs the ball more.

    Kobe isn't the only guy in the league who won't share the ball. But Atkins' problem with Bryant goes deeper than that. His implication is that Kobe deliberately set it up so that he could have the ball in his hands in every possession.

    Last season, Kobe still spent much of the game with the ball in his hands, but his usage rate was down to 28.7, good for ninth in the league (ironically, the same number as Wade's Usage Rate this year).

    Sources claim that several players trace the problem to Kobe and the Lakers' decision to re-implement certain elements of the triangle. Most newer players on the team were unfamiliar with it and several felt that Bryant was pushing for it in an effort to get even more control over the offense.

    Two sources familiar with Tomjanovich's thinking told Insider that Bryant's constant pushing for Tomjanovich to bring back a version of the triangle (an offense Tomjanovich was much less familiar with) and management's unquestioned support of Bryant made Tomjanovich's decision to retire an easy one.

    The team wasn't playing great before the move, but at least it was in the playoff hunt with a respectable 24-19 record. Since Tomjanovich left and assistant Frank Hamblen (one of the few holdovers from Jackson's days with the Lakers) was installed as head coach, the Lakers are 8-18.

    The complaints from some of Bryant's teammates have become more vocal, and there appears to be a consensus in the Lakers' front office that something needs to be done about it.

    Can the Lakers change without trading Kobe?

    A late lottery pick, a free-agent signing and a trade or two this summer probably won't be enough.

    The Lakers are going to need more sweeping changes.

    According to league sources, the Lakers now feel that they erred, at least in the game of perceptions, by turning everything over to Bryant last summer in a desperate attempt to re-sign him. Kobe is a spectacular player, but he can't also be the coach and the GM of the team.

    It won't fly with his teammates and it's too much of a burden for any one player to shoulder.

    What the Lakers need is someone with stature both in the front office and at the end of the bench. They need someone who isn't afraid to make personnel moves that might rub Kobe the wrong way. They need a coach who will actually coach Bryant, ride him when he takes a bad shot, and who will implement an offense that features Kobe but doesn't revolve around him.

    Phil Jackson is the obvious name for both tasks. With Jackson calling the shots, Kobe might get a much-needed rest from the intense scrutiny he's been under all season. But sources claim that Jackson, while flattered and intrigued by the Lakers' interest, isn't leaning in the Lakers' direction.

    Owner Jerry Buss might not be able to afford him anyway. With big-spending owners like James Dolan, Paul Allen and new Cavs owner Dan Gilbert all pursuing Jackson, the bidding war might get out of control.

    Memphis president Jerry West, another obvious choice to take over, told Insider in February that there was "no chance" he'd return to the Lakers.

    Miami GM Pat Riley, the other star-studded name from Lakers' past, claims that he has no intention of leaving the Heat or coaching again. Given the fact that his team has the best record in the league and Shaq – why would he?

    With those three names off the board, the Lakers could be in a pickle this summer.

    Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe's name has surfaced in the past few weeks as a possibility. While Kiki is the type of out-of-the-box thinker who could help rebuild the Lakers, his close relationship with Bryant and his laid-back demeanor don't suggest that he could wrestle back control of the team.

    As far as head coaches go, the pool also might be limited if Jackson can't be tapped. Flip Saunders' name has been mentioned, but his player-friendly, laid-back approach is too similar to Tomjanovich's.

    Other names out there include Paul Silas, Mo Cheeks and former Warriors head coach Eric Musselman. None suggests the stature to deal with Bryant.

    Given the fact that L.A. is capped out until the summer of 2007, will Buss be left with no choice but to move Bryant?

    Should the Lakers trade Kobe?

    Kobe has a no-trade clause, meaning that they can't just ship him off to the Milwaukee Bucks, but there are a few trades out there that could make sense for the Lakers and Kobe.

    Trades cannot happen until the end of the regular season. However, once the Lakers are eliminated from the playoffs, it might be time for Buss to pick up the phone and see if there's an advantageous Kobe deal out there.

    The Lakers probably could land Corey Maggette, Chris Wilcox and a re-signed Marko Jaric from the Clippers.

    The Chicago Bulls were the other team that Bryant seriously considered signing with last summer. GM John Paxson was willing to give up assets to land Kobe. A trade of Eddy Curry or Tyson Chandler (neither becomes a restricted free agent until June 30), Ben Gordon, Eric Piatkowski and the expiring contract of Othella Harrington, would work under the cap. The Lakers would then own the restricted rights to either Curry or Chandler and could re-sign him this summer.

    A deal with the Memphis Grizzlies could also make some sense. West remains a fan of Kobe (and vice versa) and would likely give up anyone on his roster to get a true star in Memphis. Mike Miller, James Posey, Stromile Swift and Earl Watson in a sign-and-trade would all be possibilities.

    The Seattle SuperSonics are looking for star power, too, and might be willing to part with Ray Allen and Vladimir Radmanovic in a sign-and-trade for Bryant.

    While the Lakers wouldn't get "equal value" in return for Bryant in any of those deals, they would get back more than the Orlando Magic got for T-Mac and the Toronto Raptors got for Vince Carter. The Bulls' deal is especially appealing because of the upside of Curry and Gordon and Bryant's infatuation with all things Michael Jordan. Whatever the Lakers end up doing, it's clear now that things are going to have to change in L.A. this summer. If they don't, both Kobe and the Lakers risk leaving their legacies buried under the rubble.
  2. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

    Jan 1, 2000
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    Well, Lakers fans are too stoopid to realize that Kobe is running that franchise into the ground because they still sell out the arena and sell Kobe jerseys out the wazoo. No way Kupchak trades his cash cow.

    The only superstar I can see Kobe traded for is KG, but Garnett is bigger in Minnesota than Kobe is in LA. That leaves a Kobe for one star (Maybe an AK47, Amare, or Elton Brand) and some role players, but John Weisbrod can tell you how well a superstar for roleplayers trade usually goes...
  3. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Wow, A-Train. Long time, no hear!
  4. DeAleck

    DeAleck Contributing Member

    Jun 14, 2003
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    Any time A-Train posts anything, it's a welcoming back parade.
    A-Train, we have too many rookies (the one who joined in 2005) pissing around, we need a veteran like you to put them back to their places.
  5. wakkoman

    wakkoman Contributing Member

    Aug 10, 2003
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    A-Train's back??
  6. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

    Jan 1, 2000
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    Gee, I coulda sworn this thread was about Kobe. :)
  7. emjohn

    emjohn Contributing Member

    Jul 29, 2002
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    All aboard!

    I can't see them trading Kobe at all. Love how Mike Miller, James Posey, Stromile Swift and Earl Watson is considered a preferrable package to Francis-Mobley-Cato. I don't suppose Chad Ford wrote this.

    He does make a good point in that the Lakers aren't likely to get a coach that can handle Kobe.

    I feel that their main emphasis should be on trading pieces of the roster to get complimentary role players around Bryant. There's no sense in having scoring point guards (Atkins) or swingmen (Butler) when Kobe's going to do his Iverson approach no matter what. Bring in hard nosed defenders (Artest for Odom?) and junkyard guys (Haslem) that can fill in the cracks. Get guys that thrive off the ball. A couple of specialized shooters (Pike, Mayor). Hang on to Mihm (25 y/o) unless a better young center comes along.

    In the end, it's simple:
    ***Stay away from guys that need touches to be effective***

    Purely made up scenario, not meant to be scrutinized for realism:
    -Odom (11.5) for Artest (6.5) and Foster (4.8)
    -Atkins and Butler (6.9 combined, both expiring) for Kurt Thomas (6.6)
    -Divac (5.4, final yr) for Ruben Patterson (6.3)
    -George and Slava (about 8) for PJ Brown (8)
    -->toss in picks and cap filler as need be

    Obtain a deadeye PG with the MLE or via the draft if possible.

  8. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

    Feb 14, 1999
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    I think it's probably too early for the Lakers to give up on the Kobe-centered team (and I'm not just saying that because I like to see the Lakers wallow in mediocrity). You have to give a rebuilding effort a couple of seasons to develop before expecting to see fruit. Being capped out doesn't mean the team can't make moves. They will improve.
  9. meh

    meh Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2002
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    Hasn't the T-Mac and Shaq trades the past offseason taught people anything? You DON'T trade superstars. The Lakers have a tons of problems, but they should find ways to solve it that doesn't include trading Kobe. Perhaps getting players that are better fits, like the way CD has brought in Wesley/Barry/James. Or perhaps get the right coach, or draft right.

    But whatever they do, they just can't trade a player the caliber of Kobe in his prime.
  10. GoatBoy

    GoatBoy Member

    May 17, 2002
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    Traded? Kobe should be spayed.

    Why would anyone want him? He's a phenomenal basketball talent player, but the chaos he and his ego bring counter it.
  11. Stack24

    Stack24 Contributing Member

    Jul 15, 2003
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    Talent.....He's Great...

    Team Player .....He's a Cancer
  12. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

    Nov 8, 2002
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    Reminds me of the situation we had with Steve here, except worse. Kobe just doesn't get it, and I don't think he ever will. He dominates the ball way too much and takes too many bad shots.
  13. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

    Dec 25, 2001
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    Actually I do think Kobe gets "it" i mean he did help a laker team to 3 championships. The problem with Kobe is that he wants/needs to be the man and wishes to eclipse the legacy left by #23. He wants to win by himself to show up the world that he truly is the best and had more to do with the lakers winning those rings than shaq did. i think there is a line where a player must decide to himself and be confident and comfortable with being just really damn good rather than being the best. if kobe was fine with really damn good than the lakers would still be the team to beat and who knows they may have had another ring by now.

    as for steve he may never get it sadly steve will just be another nba entertainer when his career comes to a end. i really dont see continuing playoff success for the guy.
  14. pippendagimp

    pippendagimp Member

    Sep 1, 2000
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    Trade him to the Sparks
  15. gucci888

    gucci888 Contributing Member

    May 20, 2002
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    The Lakers would be the dumbest franchise in sports history if they managed to 1. Fire PJ, 2. Trade Shaq, and 3. Trade Kobe all in a 1-2 year span.

    The fact is that the Lakers jumped on Kobe's lap and he made them their b****es. Now, they are going to have to live with it.
  16. vwiggin

    vwiggin Contributing Member

    Jul 25, 2002
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    Thanks for posting the article man. *tips hat*

    I was really curious about the article but did not have access to insider. :D
  17. apostolic3

    apostolic3 Member

    Mar 17, 2003
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    I would trade Kobe for Garnett, but I don't think Minny would do it.

    Besides what everyone has already said, another reason the Lakers can't rebuild by trade is none of the other GMs respect Kupchak (see the Shaq trade). If/when he offers Odom, Butler or anyone else to the other teams, they will lowball him. IF the Lakers were lucky enough to get equal value on a couple of trades, by definition they wouldn't improve at all. Team chemistry wouldn't improve because Kobe causes the chemistry problems. Even in his first couple of years with the Lakers, he was called (cursed) out by veteran teammates for being a jerk and a ballhog. Kobe will be Kobe until he gets a lobotomy or gets traded to another team where it's made clear he won't function as GM and coach.
  18. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

    Jun 3, 2002
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    Kobe for Yao...

  19. lalala902102001

    Jul 4, 2002
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    Seriously, after what has happened in the last couple of years, who would want to trade for Kobe Bryant?
  20. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

    Jan 1, 2000
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    New Orleans
    Golden State
    New York
    LA Clippers

    basically, any crappy team that wants to sell a lot of tickets would go after Kobe in a flash...

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