Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lakers: Either get West back or trade Kobe

In recent years, the Los Angeles Lakers have had disappointing seasons since trading star center Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat. Kobe Bryant is fed up with all of this losing. The Lakers have had just four playoff wins in the last three seasons playing without Shaq. Recently, Kobe has said that he wanted Jerry West, the architect of the Laker dynasty in the beginning of the decade, back as Lakers general manager. If the Lakers could not do this, it has been rumored that he wants to be traded.
Mitch Kupchak could have done several moves to get a second star in Los Angeles, but every time he has failed to do so. The most publicised was during the trade deadline this February when Kupchak could have gotten Jason Kidd if he included center Andrew Bynum in the deal. He refused, saying that he didn't want to risk the future of the Lakers in favor of one or two years as a legitimate title contender. However, Kupchak didn't consider that everywhere he has gone, Kidd has made his teammates better and his game could last until his late thirties like John Stockton's did.
Also, Kobe could have been traded during his free agent year in 2004 to the Chicago Bulls. The deal was already set up, but Kobe did not want to leave Los Angeles in favor of another place where the future was uncertain. He also could have gone to the Los Angeles Clippers without a sign and trade being involved. After weighing his options, Kobe decided to stay with the Lakers because he wanted to remain loyal to his franchise. In my opinion, the Clippers have the better team right now even without Kobe.
The main reason why the Lakers aren't a contender right now, other than that they are in the Western Conference, is that they didn't get enough in return for Shaq and they are a young team that doesn't have a consistent second scoring option. When Shaq was on the trading market, the Dallas Mavericks were willing to give up almost anyone other than Dirk Nowitzki, but the Lakers said no because they thought that they would not be able to beat the Mavs in a playoff series. What they forgot was that Shaq was entering his mid thirties. Now, if the Lakers did a deal with the Mavs for Shaq, they could still be playing in this year's playoffs.
Instead, they traded Shaq to the Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. Odom is the only one of the three left on the team. Butler, an all-star this year, was traded after only one year in purple and gold for Kwame Brown. If Butler was still with the Lakers, he would have been the second scoring option that the Lakers needed so badly the last three years. Grant has been a salary cap killer for the Lakers. Sure, the Lakers used him as their amnesty exception in 2005, but that only counted against the luxury tax, not against the salary cap. Odom has had some great moments with the Lakers, but he is prone to injuries and hasn't always been as consistent as the Lakers have wanted him to be. Odom has been in trade talks with almost every all-star player the Lakers have been after, so that could take its toll on Odom.
If Kobe wants to be traded, that's okay, but where will he be traded to. The Lakers will demand a lot more than they did for Shaq and Most of the contenders in the NBA don't need that radical of a change to become a championship team. I couldn't see Kobe be traded to the Bobcats or Hawks because they are not ready for a championship run yet. A team like the Cavaliers or the Timberwolves who are looking to add another superstar don't have the necessary pieces to give to the Lakers in exchange for Kobe. However, a team like the Golden State Warriors or the Sacramento Kings have the necessary pieces that they are willing to give up and probably the interest to bring Kobe to their teams. The Warriors could give up a guy like Jason Richardson, an all-star level player when healthy and one of the most exciting players in the NBA. The Kings could give up Kevin Martin or, if the Lakers want to take a risk, Brad Miller.

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