Is A Kobe Bryant Trade On The Horizon? A Few Rumored Scenarios…
The Knicks suck. The Nets suck. The Hornets and the Mavericks are top teams with outside shots at winning a title this season. What do all these teams have in common?
They're better than the Lakers, who just lost Julius Randle for the season and owe the Suns their first-rounder this year UNLESS they get a top five pick. All these teams can offer L.A. quality pieces in exchange for the remaining two years, $48 million on 36-year-old Kobe Bryant's deal...and the assurance the Lakers will finish dead last in the NBA.
Chad Ford posited a potential blockbuster deal that allows the Lakers to tank/acquire assets like picks and young talent, while giving either the Mavs, Hornets, Knicks or Nets Kobe f-ing Bryant for this season and the next.
[ESPN Insider] "I don't think Mitch has much choice but to find ways to lose," one GM told ESPN. "They're going to be bad anyway. You don't want to be just good enough that you lose the pick and still miss the playoffs. I don't think they have the assets to get good enough to make the playoffs and I don't think they have the [expletive] to trade Kobe. It's paradoxical, but right now losing seems like the only way to really get better."
Of course, Kobe has a no trade clause that makes any deal that much more difficult, and the Buss family would have to have a serious change of heart on that extension they gave him last season. That being said, Kobe doesn't strike us as a particularly nostalgic guy who'd endure a 20 win season just because the city loves him, and Jeannie Buss has got to know this kind of deal is her chance to fix the franchise.
Here's how any one of the teams listed above could pull off a trade for the Black Mamba in his final few seasons:
Dallas - Without any cap room, it'd be hard for the Mavs to take on Kobe Bryant's massive deal without trading Chandler Parsons or Tyson Chandler...or both, which doesn't make much sense if they're trying to compete this season.
Hornets - Usually having very few bad contracts is a good thing in the NBA. Not when you're trading for a bad contract, however (or at least a big one). The Hornets have done a great job of shedding shitty deals, which is why they're team looks so good heading into the 2014-15 season. That means assuming Kobe's $23 million yearly salary (which increases to $25 million next season) will ultimately require trading 4-6 young players to Los Angeles, or including a third and/or fourth team in the deal to make the numbers right. Of course, if Al Jefferson (2 years, $13M per) or Lance Stephenson (3 years, $9M per) are on the table the deal is made that much easier, but makes less sense in terms of each team's needs.
Nets - Joe Johnson for Kobe Bryant -- it makes no sense and it makes total sense. Both have two years and close to $50 million left on their deals, both play shooting guard, and both cannot be happy with their current situation (except for the money part, obviously). Swapping these guys assumes that an injury prone Kobe would be an upgrade from a middling, borderline all-star jump shooter in Johnson. However, the Nets would have to include a lot of draft picks to make this thing work (why would L.A. trade Kobe for a shittier Kobe when they're trying to rebuild), and Brooklyn won't have a first round pick to trade until 2018. Plus they're so far over the cap that assuming the Lakers' other terrible contracts is out of the question. Here's the best deal we could come up with.
Knicks - Here's where a Kobe trade gets interesting. The Knicks are on the verge of being on the verge of something huge. With Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire's disgustingly huge contracts coming off the books this offseason, the Knicks will have a superstar and a payroll of $40 million heading into 2015's free agency period. Likewise, the Lakers will have $36 million of payroll after this season, and only $5 million currently allocated for 2016-17. The Lakers can make a play for a superstar in two years, while the Knicks can do that in eight months. If New York decides that they want to win now (it'd be hard to tank in 2014 with this roster/payroll), and acquire that extra piece in the middle of the 2014-15 season, trading Amar'e Stoudemire's expiring contract and Tim Hardaway Jr.'s three-year, $3 million deal to the Lakers for Kobe might be just the thing. In this scenario, Kobe gets to play with another star in Carmelo, in a big market, coached by his longtime friend Derek Fisher, helmed by longtime frenemy Phil Jackson, in a weak conference, while the Lakers get a young talent and the option to go after LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, and/or Marc Gasol this offseason.
Contact me on Twitter @_jakeodonnell if you've got questions about this list, trade/FA theories, or just want to insult me because you're having a bad day.
Photo via Getty
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