To Kobe or Not to Kobe - That is the Question
For many years the Lakers traveled on Championship Highway. Occasionally, they hit a bump in the road, or had a flat tire, but mostly they traveled in style. They had the best owner, outstanding coaches, and great players. They also had, and still have Jack Nicholson, and that is a good thing.
Today's world is somewhat different for them. There are problems from the left, problems from the right, and problems from the middle. The departure of the uncertain Dwight Howard has forced them to do some serious reflection.
They now just have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol left from their championship days. They just amnestied Metta World Peace, and this move reduced their luxury tax obligation. So, it would appear that the team is in a cost cutting mode. They now have to take into consideration that Bryant and Gasol earn $30 and $18 million a year, respectively.
Into their already complicated world, they have to consider that Bryant is recovering from serious surgery on his Achilles tendon. He is working hard on his rehabilitation, and he is convinced that he will be better than ever. However even he as hard as he works, no one can guarantee that he will be able to perform as well as he did in the past. It is too awful for any of us to contemplate that he may never be able to play again.
However, unpleasant as it may be, the Lakers Management Team will have to consider this possibility. Two of the choices that they may make are to continue to pay his salary, and have him sit out for most of next season. Another is to use the Amnesty approach, which will allow him to be paid the entire $30 million next year, but will also allow him to become a free agent.
Bryant certainly cannot be happy that World Peace is no longer with the team. It seems reasonable to assume that the team is trying to make the best deal that they can for themselves, by orchestrating a trade for Gasol. A best case scenario for them would be to have some other team pick up a significant portion of his salary, and to get one or two draft choices in return. This could be an important step in their rebuilding process it would also serve notice to Bryant that the Lakers are no longer hunting for championships and that his influence over the team has waned.
With a dad to attempt to trade Bryant, are there any other teams that would want him, considering his age, his health, his attitude, and his salary?
If they did trade him, or attempt to do so, his fans would go berserk. However, despite their unhappiness they would continue to pay to see the games. Bryant, of course, feels that he is indispensable and untouchable, but all great athletes feel that way. If you recall, the Yankees traded Babe Ruth, and somehow they survived.
There are now many rules that govern how players may be acquired or traded. Even when they are met, the NBA Commissioner may void any transaction, if he chooses to do so. I suspect that at this point in his career Bryant would not like to play for another team. His entire career has been spent here, and his home is in Orange County. He spent a lot of time training everyone in the Lakers organization to genuflect in his presence.
There might be someone in a different organization who would not do that for him, and that could upset him. Even so, the path ahead is not clear, and there are many dangerous curves that should be avoided. There are some big decisions to be made, and that is why the deciders make the big bucks.