Kobe trade talk
The Lakers are 2-2, and if they get off to a good start, the Kobe Bryant trade talk may die down. However, bridges appear to be burned and things have been set in motion, so it would take a ton of wins to make everyone in Lakerland forget about Kobe’s tumultuous summer.
A three-way trade with Chicago and Sacramento was discussed last week but based on the players involved, I don’t really think it had much of a chance of happening. Here’s the breakdown:
Lakers get: Ron Artest, Ben Wallace
Bulls get: Kobe Bryant
Kings get: Ben Gordon, P.J. Brown
So the Lakers, who are trying to get younger, are going to trade Kobe away for Ron Artest and Ben Wallace? That’s doubtful.
The rumor was that the deal was shot down because the Lakers want Luol Deng. But Kobe, who has the league’s only active no-trade clause, doesn’t want to play for the Bulls if Deng isn’t there. If that’s the case, it appears that Kobe is much more concerned about being able to win another championship than he is about playing for a team in a big market. That said, let’s discuss a few trades that I think all three parties – the Lakers, their trade partner and Kobe – could agree on. I also asked JC, a buddy of mine (and Lakers superfan), to act as the Lakers’ GM and comment on each of the trade proposals. Keep in mind that all of these trades are financially feasible and work within salary cap constraints, as you'll see by clicking the ESPN Trade Machine links after each deal.
Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha, Chris Duhon and Tyrus Thomas
Okay, so the rumor is that Kobe doesn’t want to go to Chicago if Deng is gone, but this trade would give the Bulls a starting lineup of Ben Gordon, Kobe, Andres Nocioni, Joakim Noah and Ben Wallace, a lineup that could contend in the East. In the trade, Gordon could be substituted for Hinrich and Noah could be substituted for Thomas (but not both). Either Hinrich or Gordon (both sharpshooters) would be a good backcourt mate for Kobe, but the Bulls would still lack some punch up front. Chicago has started the season 0-4, which only increases the chances of a deal getting done sooner rather than later. JC’s take: “I’ll do that one. That’s a good deal. I’d rather have Hinrich than Gordon.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Michael Redd and Yi Jianlian
For the Lakers, Redd (right), one of the best scorers in the league, would fill the vacancy at shooting guard. Yi would give the team a talented young forward to build around and would be a great fit in L.A. with its large Chinese population. This would leave the Bucks with a starting lineup of Mo Williams, Kobe, Bobby Simmons, Charlie Villanueva and Andrew Bogut. That’s not exactly Kobe’s dream team, but Williams, Villanueva and Bogut are on the rise and every single one of those guys can shoot the ball, something that has frustrated Kobe with his current team. JC’s take: “I like Michael Redd, but Yi is just too much of an unknown at this point. No deal.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Joe Johnson and Josh Smith
Would Kobe really agree to go to the lowly Hawks? Under this scenario, he’d start alongside Acie Law, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams and Al Horford. There’s obviously a weakness at point guard right now but that’s a pretty good front line and the Hawks would also have Shelden Williams and Zaza Pachulia coming off the bench. In a year or two, the Hawks could contend in the East. JC’s take: “I would make that trade, but only if Josh Smith agrees to an extension.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Shawn Marion and Raja Bell
Marion isn’t a great one-on-one player but he was an All-Star before Steve Nash arrived, so those that say he’s a product of Nash’s talent are sorely mistaken. One would think that Kobe would love to play in Phoenix alongside Nash and Amare Stoudemire and for Mike D’Antoni, one of his childhood heroes. But would the Lakers go for it? Talent-wise this is about as good of a deal as they’re going to get for their disgruntled superstar, but they may not agree to trade him within the division. JC’s take: “That’s intriguing, but I’m going to say no to that one. Marion is a little too old (29) and anyone could have had Raja Bell two years ago.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
This should be a no-brainer for Kobe, who would get to play with the league’s best center, Yao Ming. The Rockets are off to a pretty good start but should jump at the chance to trade McGrady (right) and his balky back for Bryant, who would immediately put Houston amongst the elite in the West. The Lakers are the ones with the tough decision. Do they want to trade Kobe away to a Western Conference team for a guy that has a long injury history and has never led his team out of the first round? A first-round draft pick or two might make the decision a little easier. JC’s take: “You’re not going to get equal value for Kobe so, yeah, I’d do it. McGrady is a marquee player.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Josh Howard, Jason Terry and DaSagana Diop
In Howard, the Lakers would get the affordable young All-Star that they can build around. Terry can really score and would help to keep the Lakers competitive while the rest of the roster is sorted out. Kobe should be happy to go to Dallas and play alongside Dirk Nowitzki, although with Howard and Terry gone, the duo wouldn’t have much help. Still, role players are easier to find than superstars, and getting two guys like Kobe and Dirk on the same team is no small feat. JC’s take: “Josh Howard is a great defensive player and an up-and-comer. I’ll do that one. Howard is an eight-time All-Star waiting to happen.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Hakim Warrick
Under this scenario, the Lakers would opt for youth over proven talent, though Gay and Conley should go on to have great careers. Warrick is another prospect at forward and Mike Miller would provide steady veteran leadership while the team makes the transition. For Kobe, he’d play in Memphis alongside Pau Gasol and could be just what Darko Milicic needs to take the next step. Damon Stoudamire and Kyle Lowry could man the point, so the team would just need to find a capable small forward to round out the starting lineup. JC’s take: “That’s a trade for the future. I guess I would say yes to that for the huge upside potential. Gay and Conley are two potential All-Stars.” (ESPN TRADE MACHINE)
Other potential trade scenarios: A trade with the Pistons that included Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton would be a good deal for all three parties on paper, but I don’t think the Lakers could justify moving Kobe for two good (yet unspectacular) players. Also, would Kobe want to go to the aging Pistons? It seems like their window is quickly closing...While it would be a pretty nice deal for the Lakers, I don’t think Kobe would go for a trade to the Wizards that would send Gilbert Arenas (right) and Nick Young to L.A. Bryant would be reunited with good friend Caron Butler, but other than Antawn Jamison, there isn’t much else on that roster...Unless they can sucker a third team into getting involved, the Cavs just don’t have the pieces to swing a deal for Kobe. Besides, would Kobe and LeBron really be able to coexist? The thought of that makes my head explode...The Lakers could go for a deal with the Nuggets that would include Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby, but would Kobe be willing to play in Denver, the city that hosted his infamous rape trial? Also, one wonders how Kobe and AI would coexist...The Clippers could offer up Elton Brand and Cuttino Mobley, but it’s doubtful that Kobe would be happy with the resulting supporting class. Besides, do the Lakers really want to trade Kobe to their cross-town rival? Even getting a stud like Brand in the deal, that’s a tough pill to swallow on a daily basis...I don’t think the Hornets could put a package together that would entice both the Lakers and Kobe to OK it. Chris Paul would be the key, and it’s doubtful that the Lakers would take a deal without him and Kobe wouldn’t go to the Hornets if Paul weren’t there.
Right now, I think there’s a disparity between Kobe’s actual trade value and what the Lakers (and Kobe) think he’s worth. Teams around the league see a 29 year old who has a ton of mileage on a couple of sore knees. He does bring it every night but since Shaq left, Kobe has been unable to lead his team out of the first round of the playoffs. Some of this has to do with the personnel moves the Lakers did and didn’t make (i.e. trading Caron Butler for Kwame Brown, not trading Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd), which is I believe Kobe’s main problem with the franchise. Potential buyers see a great player but trouble and drama seem to follow the guy wherever he goes. Teams have to ask themselves if they really want to risk disrupting their chemistry. Regardless, he can’t opt out of his contract until the summer of ’09 so the Lakers aren’t in any rush to get rid of the guy. Since he has a no-trade clause, it’s a very delicate balance to find a trade partner that will keep both the Lakers and Bryant happy.
In other words, settle in because we might be here for a while.
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