The Lakers need to Trade Kobe to New York
It’s time for a divorce between Kobe and the Lakers, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. For the second off-season in a row, The Lakers have gotten considerably worse, and a portion of that has to do with Kobe’s massive 48 million dollar contract extension, which has essentially handcuffed the Lakers and their ability to go after free agents. They’ve gone from a line-up of Dwight Howard, Gasol, Artest, Kobe, and Nash to Jordan Hill, Julius Randle (who’s a rookie, no less), Nick Young, Kobe, and Jeremy Lin. In the stacked Western Conference, this line-up (even with a healthy Kobe, which is a huge question mark), this team is not going anywhere. All the Lakers can do at this stage is rebuild, and it’s looking like it’ll be a long process. The days of marquee free agents wanting to play for the Lakers, along with getting Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown type deals, are over and the only other way to improve is via the draft.
But this is where having Kobe on the Lakers actually hurts them because they need to go through the draft to get some talent. With a healthy Kobe, it’s possible this team wins 35 games. But what does that accomplish exactly, apart from stagnate that rebuilding process? Winning 30-35 games will get them a draft pick in the 7-10 range rather than a top 4 selection, which they would probably find themselves without Kobe. They need to tank, and no team can genuinely tank with Bryant.
I hate to say this, but he has to go. The problem is finding a spot that can accommodate him, but we’ve got one sitting under our noses in New York. You have the obvious ties to Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher (who Kobe has a great of respect for and will actually listen to). You also have the only market that is bigger than the one he is currently in. You also have Carmelo Anthony, who if teamed up with Kobe, would become the best duo in the league (at least on paper). The Knicks also reside in the East, so they would have a much better chance of making the playoffs even without Melo because of how pathetic that conference is. From the Lakers perspective, they would have to take on Amare’s contract (which is just under 24 million for the season), but after this year, it is up. Kobe has two years on his deal, at 24 mil a year, so they would be saving 24 million dollars (don’t tell me the Lakers can afford it. Of course they can. But that’s a lot of money to leave on the table).
The issue from the Lakers standpoint is how they would justify this move to their basketball fans (when they are trying to charge $2000 for courtside tickets), especially with the Clippers breathing down their neck for Los Angeles. The reality is for the foreseeable future, the Lakers can’t compete with the Clippers on the court. It’s hard to accept, but it’s happened. And there’s nothing anyone can do to instantly change this, and that includes Bryant. But it’s not just the Clippers that the Lakers can’t compete with. It’s San Antonio. It’s Oklahoma. It’s the Rockets, the Blazers, the Warriors, and the Mavericks. How will Kobe react when they’re losing games at home by 20 points? This is going to get real ugly, real quick. If the Lakers truly respect Kobe, they’ll get him out of here before the bloodbath this season begins.
And if Laker fans truly respect Kobe, they’ll want him to have an opportunity to go out on some kind of a high and not be left stranded like he is now. All parties have to swallow their ego and allow the right thing to happen here.