The blockbuster trade that happened yesterday…and then didn’t happen yesterday…can now happen again—with an earth-shattering twist!
Yes, Kobe Bryant will still be seeing Chris Paul arrive at Los Angeles International Airport. But this time, Kobe will have his own bags packed.
Superman Dwight Howard doesn’t need an airplane. Howard is flying himself to Los Angeles.
Nobody believed the Los Angeles Lakers have enough pieces to satisfy trades that could land them both New Orleans Hornets PG Chris Paul AND Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard.
But they still have one more bargaining chip they have used yet.
The argument before was that you can’t trade seven-feet of potential and headache in C Andrew Bynum to both teams to get each player. And the leftover Bynum-less team would never jump at the chance to pick up the pillowy toughness of PF Pau Gasol and the versatile F Lamar Odom-Kardashian.
Can’t be done, they say?
Oh, yes, it can!
ALL THE LAKERS HAVE TO DO IS TRADE KOBE BRYANT TO GET BOTH CHRIS PAUL AND DWIGHT HOWARD!!!
What? You can’t trade a franchise player? Heck, even Wilt Chamberlain was once traded. The Lakers can simply dub Howard and Paul as co-franchise players.
In trading the aging Kobe Bryant, now starting his 15th year in the league with an assortment of injuries, the Lakers can re-load for the next ten years. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are both only 26 years young.
By keeping Kobe, the Lakers could be competitive for maybe the next two years, but they weren’t going to win another championship with this line-up of obsolete spare parts from the Triangle. Trading Kobe reflects a similar predicament that the Indianapolis Colts will face next spring with Peyton Manning and the available Andrew Luck. Gee, I wonder if that predicament solved itself for the Green Bay Packers with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. (Someone please let me know how that turned out.)
Back when he was the same age as Howard and Paul, Kobe used to be a nightly human highlight reel. Nowadays, that human highlight reel is filled with nothing but scowls and dry interviews. We hate LeBron because he seems so packaged. Come on, wake up, people! Kobe has been that same fan-unfriendly way since before Shaq exited the Staples Center.
At least Shaq was a people’s player. If you saw Shaq on the street, you’d want to say hello. If you saw Kobe on the street, you know that he’s purposely avoiding any eye contact with fans so that his highness isn’t bothered by the fans. $25 million per year is supposed to buy you some privacy, right?
If I were Jim Buss, I would take this moment to stamp my personal imprint on Laker history. (Does he really want drafting Andrew Bynum to be what he’s remembered most for?) This will prove that Jim has the balls to do something that Dr. Jerry couldn’t do: look Kobe in the eye, and hand him a one-way first-class plane ticket to Orlando. It’s not like Orlando is purgatory. They have a Disney Park there, too.
The new Laker era begins the moment Buss makes this trade.
David Stern would approve these trades. Here is a chance to shift arguably one of the two or three biggest NBA stars to save the other Florida franchise. Meanwhile, the NBA-owned Hornets get a future star in Bynum (instead of a reality TV star in Odom).
I know, after you get over the shock about sending Kobe Bryant (arguably less of an actual Lakers icon than Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and perhaps even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), you’re going to bring up Kobe’s no-trade clause. The no-trade clause means that the Lakers can’t trade Kobe without his consent.
So the trick is to make Kobe want to be traded. Get him out of Hollywood faster than Charlie Sheen’s career.
Hey, that’s not impossible as impossible as it sounds on the surface. Afterall, Kobe has made past threats and demands to leave the Lakers before. (Remember when he almost signed years ago with the Clippers?)
Parents know that the only way that you can really handle a bratty child is to call him on his bluff. What? You’re going to hold your breath until you’re blue in the face unless I buy you a pony? OK, go right ahead, you immature little brat!
If Kobe knows the fans aren’t behind him, there’s not a snowball’s chance in L.A. that Kobe is staying here just for the money. Maybe some players like Artest or Rodman won’t want to leave Los Angeles because of the allure from the movie and music industries. But Kobe has never been about that. He lives down in Orange County. He has recorded a rap album. He has never starred in his own KAZAAM.
If I’m Jim Buss, I’m getting on every morning radio show and talking up how Bryant is old, and creaky, and never any fun. He’s no team player. A team player is not someone who always scowls at his teammates. Even the most laid-back workplaces can be dominated by that one workaholic who thinks he’s better and smarter than everyone else.
Trading Kobe would do wonders for the culture of the remaining Lakers. You really think Pau and Lamar like walking around with so much anxiety that if they piss off Kobe, he’ll never pass them the ball once he dribbles across half court? Pau and Lamar are known for being two of the nicest teammates and media interviews in the NBA.
So, let’s trade that scowl for a smile…or two.
Have you seen Dwight Howard’s smile? It’s as wide as his wing-span.
Chris Paul has such a cute smile that he can fit right into any Nickelodeon line-up.
Add the reinvigorated smiles from Gasol and Odom, and you now have a team that looks like they’re having fun when they’re winning. Shannon Brown would have stayed for less money if he knew that he would be the starting shooting guard on this line-up.
With about fifteen shopping days still left before Christmas, Jim Buss walks into Mitch Kupchak’s office and draws up this trade on his iPad.
Trade Bynum ($14.9M for 2011-2012) and F-C Derrick Caracter ($788K) to the Hornets, in exchange for PG Chris Paul ($16.3M).
Trade Bryant ($25.2M) his caddy Luke Walton ($5.68M), and his breathing coach G Derek Fisher ($3.4M) to the Magic, in exchange for C Howard ($18.1M), F Hedo Turkoglu ($10.6M), and G J.J. Redick ($6.75M).
(Thanks to http://hoopdata.com/salaries/index.aspx , I found a way for all the salaries to work.)
Why would the Hornets and Magic do these deals? For starters, because there’s no way Howard and Paul are wearing Magic and Hornets uniforms, respectively, for the 2012-2013 season. They will not sign those contract extensions. So New Orleans and Orlando better get something now, or else these potential trades will distract all this season.
Yes, Orlando, face it, you are going to lose the top center in the league. This time, you better get something good in return, unlike the last time your big man left before his prime and ended up in L.A.
You want to make the Lakers pay big this time. Bryant would be huge. H-U-G-E!
The Magic do this deal because they get the biggest draw Orlando has ever seen since the Epcot Center opened. Orlando finally gets a megastar serious about winning. Do you really think Shaq, Penny, or the other Superman were that serious about winning championships at the tip-off of every regular season game? The Magic can build its winning-first identity around Kobe. Once you use your amnesty clause to dump G Gilbert Arenas (since he can’t share the ball and locker room with Kobe), you get some extra financial flexibility. The Magic thankfully rid themselves of Turkoglu’s disintegrating game, and they get rid of a high-priced three point shooter in Redick who’s no good now that nobody is clogging the lane without Howard in the middle. With Walton and Fisher, you surround yourself with smart guys who can keep Kobe focused. Even without Howard upfront, the Magic can lean on C Marcin Gortat, F Brandon Bass, and F-C Daniel Orton. Do you think Kobe needs to throw the ball into the post? No, he needs rebounders and defenders who can also set a mean screen. PG Jameer Nelson plays like a young Fisher. With lure of Florida and no state income tax, there will be plenty of small forwards released from the Amnesty cuts who would love to be Kobe’s Scotty Pippin. Hello, Marvin Williams, Vince Carter, or Andray Blatche?
The Hornets do this deal because they finally get a big man to build around. The future isn’t this season for the Hornets; that’s why David Stern killed yesterday’s deals to send Odom to New Orleans for Paul. Bynum is the future.
You get Bynum, and you have time to rebuild. Bynum will be happy outside of the TMZ spotlight, and outside of the Kobe shadows. Bynum has never been West Coast. You don’t think a young millionaire like Bynum can’t enjoy New Orleans? Let David West walk. Pick up some draft picks, and prepare for 2012-2013. Bynum sucks as a follower, but if you put him a position to be a leader, I think he’s smart enough to mature. Heck, even Zach Randolph matured in Memphis.
The Lakers now have the ultimate pick-and-roll combo in Howard and Paul. On the weakside, you’ll still have Gasol reaching above players with his long arms for 5-foot put-backs. Odom, the ultimate glue-guy, provides back-up when Gasol moves to the middle. Howard and Paul have never played with this kind of length on their team. They already signed a three point shooter in Jason Kapono. Now pick up an extra defensive stopper to start at SG like G Arron Afflalo, and this team has a more outstanding supporting cast than any current HBO series.
Which line-up would restore Showtime? A starting line-up with Bryant, Paul, Bynum, Caracter, and Artest?
Or a ball-sharing line-up featuring Paul, Affalo, Howard, Gasol, and Odom? If you are Jim Buss and Mike Brown, this is how you make it your team—instead of Kobe’s team.
You can surround Paul, Howard, Odom, and Gasol with glue guys like Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Even Ron Artest may decide that it’s lot more fun playing in L.A. without Kobe reminding him that Artest was once borderline great.
And why does Kobe waive his no-trade agreement? Because by the time Jim Buss is done with his PR campaign reminding L.A. that we’re attracted to shiny objects, Kobe will look like third fiddle to Howard and Bryant. In Florida, he gets a big state of rich fans. He gets the daily motivation his aging body needs–knowing that D-Wade and LeBron are just down the Interstate. Kobe and new neighbor Tiger Woods can power-lunch together, or they can borrow cups of intensity from each other whenever they run a little low. The clincher can be DisneyWorld naming a new ride after Kobe.
And Kobe gets a lot richer since Florida has no state income tax. He’ll be richer, he’ll be more motivated, and betcha he’ll be angrier. You haven’t seen Kobe scowl until you’ve seen a Magic Kobe Scowl!
And fortunately for the Lakers, Bryant will play in the Eastern Conference where they will only have to play him twice per year (no doubt every Christmas).
Kobe still gets to kick-off Christmas Day. It’ll now just be in an Orlando Magic uniform.
Would this make the Lakers better?