Kobe Bryant is on a maniacal, no-holds-barred quest to win seven championships, best the current "greatest player ever" Michael Jordan and ascend the list of basketball immortals, and no one and nothing will stand in his way. Nothing that is, except perhaps Jim Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
The Lakers have been eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and Kobe Bryant knows his team as currently constructed, and it's aging roster's championship window may have closed. If this is the case, both Kobe Bryant and the Lakers would be wise to part ways before things get ugly.
Make no mistake about it, Bryant would love to retire as a Laker, to continue to increase his franchise records to the point where no future Laker would even dream of breaking them. Bryant would love to win his sixth, and hopefully, seventh titles as a Laker. However if the only choice is increasing his Lakers records while watching the finals each season from home or winning titles in another NBA city, the choice is an easy one for the man known as the Black Mamba.
The problem is the Lakers' front office knows they are in dire need of an influx of youth, and owner and head man in charge Jim Buss would like to build around the man-child he ordered drafted in the 2005 NBA draft—24-year-old star center Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers also seem to have been ordered by ownership to cut costs as nothing else would explain trading the at-that-time reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom, to the conference rival, defending champion and team that just swept the Lakers out of the playoffs the year before—Dallas Mavericks.
Bryant, for all his past greatness and continued excellence is neither young nor inexpensive. Bryant will be 34 years old by the time the 2012-13 NBA season starts and is due to earn over $58 million over the next two seasons.
If the Lakers want to build around Bynum or even retool their roster to add much-needed youth and depth, the quickest, and perhaps, best way to do that would be to trade the greatest player in franchise history. And while the front office may not publicly admit they have considered doing so already, I believe they have and that their is at least one team official pushing for such a trade to happen.
Much has been made of Bryant's infamous "no trade clause," however, while Kobe may indeed be able to nix any, and therefore, every trade the Lakers may include him in, he is also a fiercely proud individual who I believe would take any news of the Lakers shopping him to other teams as a challenge and reason to simply say, "You want to trade me? Trade me! I'll win a title anywhere before this team even contends for one again!"
While I do believe Bryant would indeed agree to be traded by the Lakers, I also have no doubt that any such trade would occur on his terms and on his terms only. Seeing Kobe Bryant accept a trade to the Bobcats, Wizards, Raptors or Pistons is just about unthinkable. Likewise, believing the Lakers would trade Bryant to a division rival is ludicrous.
Any trade for Bryant would need to be to both a team of his choosing and one which plays in the Eastern Conference. That said, the Knicks, Bulls and Heat are the only realistic possibilities, and since Derrick Rose may never be the same Derrick Rose that won the MVP award in 2011 and the Heat may balk at offering the much younger and less expensive Dwyane Wade, New York is obviously the most realistic destination for the Kobester.
A simple trade of Kobe Bryant for Carmelo Anthony, Toney Douglas and Jerome Jordan would be the most plausible deal and the one I feel would happen when push came to shove.
New York and Kobe Bryant—a match made in heaven.
I believe that Kobe Bryant would love playing for the Knicks, deep-pocketed owner James Dolan, the intelligent-yet-rabid New York fans and in the most famous arena in the world in Madison Square Garden. In fact, I believe Bryant has pondered this exact scenario many times already and relished the thought of dominating on the world's grandest stage.
Truth be told, I believe Kobe Bryant may be wise to force his hand a bit and demand the Lakers trade him to the New York Knicks, especially if they happen to be entertaining the thought of either trading him anyways or building for the future with Andrew Bynum as the centerpiece. Kobe Bryant to the Knicks needs to happen...now!
Here are the top reasons Kobe Bryant should force a trade to the New York Knicks: