Kobe Bryant: What If He Was Traded?
First, let me explain that this is not going to happen. Point blank, period. However, with the NBA lockout now ending, we can pretend, right?
With the help of the ESPN NBA Trade Machine, I assembled four trade scenarios that I think could work, both financially and personnel-wise.
We know the Lakers are loaded up front with Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. It's also been well-documented that people think Kobe should defer to them more, even though he's a top 10 player of all time. Well, let's say the Lakers think they can do better without Kobe. Let's say they think they can get enough in return for Kobe to make it worthwhile trading him. What would the Lakers get for him? Would it be worth it? Let's take a look.
Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats
Lakers get: Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Gerald Henderson, Memphis 1st round 2012
Bobcats get: Metta World Peace, Xavier Henry, rights to Ater Majok
The Lakers and Grizzlies are known for making blockbuster trades. This would be bigger than the Pau one, certainly. Let's simply break down each team's deal and see what they get.
Lakers - They lose Kobe and Ron Ar, I mean, Metta World Peace, but they gain more than enough. Rudy Gay is coming off of a shoulder surgery, but the Grizzlies won without him last year. They also tried to get rid of O.J. Mayo, so they can throw him in the deal. They also get Gerald Henderson, who hasn't done much in Charlotte, even as a young energy guy. Throw in a 1st round pick from Memphis and it's a deal.
Grizzlies - They get the Golden Prize here. They get Kobe to pair with Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. If they resign Shane Battier, they have a conference title contending team right there. They have to take on Kwame Brown's contract, but it would be worth it in the long run.
Bobcats - The Bobcats are put in here for money reasons. They take on Peace's contract, but he has a player option for next year, meaning it's essentially an expiring contract. They also get a young shooting guard to replace Henderson's spot. Lastly, they get the rights to a foreigner who could (although not likely) develop into something.
New Orleans Hornets
Hornets get: Kobe Bryant, Lakers 2012 1st-rounder
Lakers: This trade works nearly straight up because, if healthy, Kobe is still a top five player in the league. I think adding the draft picks might make the deal look sweeter for the Hornets, although it might not even be necessary.
The Lakers get the best all-around PG in the game, a 2nd round pick, and a more than suitable backup. They could explore other trade options to get ride of Fisher or Blake and have a young group with Paul, Jack, and Darius Morris for the future.
Hornets: The team that drafted the future Hall of Famer gets him at the end of his career. For Kobe, this would be one last chance to show how good he can be, carrying a team of nobodies. For the Hornets, they'd be faced with the problem of making Kobe happy. The team they have now is bad, even with David West. Who knows how he'll be when he returns from major knee surgery, but this might be the best deal available if offered.
Lakers get: Brandon Roy, rights to Nolan Smith, Greg Oden, Blazers 1st-rounder 2012
Blazers get: Kobe Bryant
Lakers: Consider me the lone believer of Brandon Roy. I always thought he still had it, and the playoff game last spring validates my belief. He had the same hops, his jumper looked great, and he had confidence, something he's been lacking. Coming to the big stage in LA with new scenery and a new team would only benefit him. Also, I think Nolan Smith would be a great steal here as he can play the SG or the PG role. Greg Oden would be a throw-in who could do great things with the help of the Lakers' training staff.
Blazers: The Blazers would feel like they're getting a GREAT deal here, given who they're trading away. They depart with two oft-injured players and a draftee to claim one of the best SGs in the league. A team that always seems to be on the cusp of greatness, this might very well put them over the edge. Kobe with LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace, Andre Miller and Ray Felton at PG would make a great unit.
Lakers get: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal
Celtics get: Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes
Lakers: They wouldn't be making off badly in this trade. They get a PG who is great at distributing the ball, and with two big men down low at nearly all times, this would work perfectly for them. Add in Ray Allen, who could simply translate his current role with the C's to the Lakers as a spot-up shooter, and the Lakers may be a better team. Jermaine O'Neal gives them four 7-footers who are capable of playing extended, productive minutes.
Celtics: Never. No way. The Lakers and Celtics couldn't possibly trade their two biggest stars. Well, according to a recent ESPN article, the Celtics have had internal discussions about the possibility of trading Rondo for Paul. If this trade presented itself, wouldn't you think they'd jump at one more chance at a title? A young PG in Brown, a more dynamic SG, a new backup SF, and one last run at a title for them all.