Surgery, Trades and other stuff:

Kurt —  May 27, 2007

God is a bullet, have mercy on us everyone.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Ric Bucher reported that Kobe said “bring back Jerry West or I want to be traded,” but what #24 told the LA Times for Monday is different:

Bryant said he did not link his future with the Lakers to the hiring of West, as reported Sunday. He has not asked for a trade and did not foresee seeking one if West was not hired.

“I would love for him to be a part of this,” Bryant said. “But it’s not something where I demand he comes here. All I can do is offer my thoughts. I love being a Laker. I want to retire a Laker. I want to fix this thing, or at least help any way I can.”

My gut reaction: Kobe rattles some cages, this is part of his “keep the pressure on” campaign. He wants to see some aggressive moves, and he hopes bringing up the specter of West will do that.

Does anyone have a different take?

• Kwame Brown undergoes ankle surgery this week, and for his sake I hope it’s not on the bad end of the scales (doctors will decide how much they have to do once they get in there). His going under the knife shouldn’t be a surprise — he basically said this during the season. And his already limited movement was even more limited at the end of the season.

• The surgery has led to the question: How does this impact the ability to trade Kwame? And what about Odom and his surgery?

I’ve said this before about Kwame but let me say it again — there was no demand for Kwame around the league BEFORE the surgery. There was no GM in the league saying, “You know who would make my team better? Kwame Brown.” Laker fans seem to seriously overestimate his trade value. He was the Lakers best center last season by default, but he was a “C-“ player this year on the whole and his reputation around the league is worse. He was only going to be part of any deal as salary filler, nothing more. The surgery will make it even harder to move him even as filler — remember the days of teams just taking on expiring contracts are fading. The surgery makes it more likely that if he gets moved it will be next season at the trading deadline. A summer trade is not impossible, but again Kwame would be an afterthought.

As for Odom, he still has trade value, but teams are going to want him to see play a little first. Again, a summer trade becomes less likely, if they do move him a training camp or trading deadline move is more likely.

• Kobe Bryant told the LA Times he’s still frustrated and wants the team to make move. Not that he’ll say what those moves are (at least publicly). And thanks to the two surgeries mentioned above, Laker management has few options.

• If there was one class I’d like to see high school and college kids take, it would be something titled “Being media savvy.” The way information is distributed today and the ways the “media” handle things often has ulterior motives (usually making money and/or gaining notoriety) and if you understand that you understand your world a lot better.

I bring that up because Bill Plaschke pulled a William Rhoden in the Sunday LA Times calling for Kobe to be traded. Read this post at True Hoop and just substitute Plaschke’s name in for Rhoden. Plaschke made Simers the rational columnist today. Enough said.

• You are all just lucky I don’t turn this into an America’s Cup blog for the next month. (And you think I’m kidding, I love the AC.)

to Surgery, Trades and other stuff:

  1. wow, that was a very good pessimistic read.


  2. Even if the Lakers were to trade Kobe, I have very little confidence that Mitch Kupchak and/or Jim Buss will make the right trade. The talent evaluation skills of both Kupchak and Buss are suspect at best. Lakers need a more competent person in the front office. Without such a person, Lakers would never get out of the rut their in with or without Kobe.


  3. Oy, depressing days for Laker fans.

    Nevermind that trading Kobe would be absolute murder for Laker fans. They’d FREAK.


  4. Trade Kwame and Bynum.

    With the luck the Hawks have had, do you guys think they may go for Conley at the 3rd spot in the draft and perhaps even consider a Josh Smith for Andrew Bynum (+?) trade? Josh has had his run ins with the management.

    It would be interesting. We’ll see if the Lakers do their homework.


  5. Did anyone hear that Kobe wants to be traded unless they hire Jerry West?

    O please JW, come out of West Virginia


  6. 5- This is the part where Laker fans get nervous.


  7. No worries folks. Unfounded trade rumors are a two-way street. We shouldn’t believe that the Lakers will get another superstar for nothing. And we shouldn’t believe that Kobe’s gone.


  8. Derek Banducci May 27, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    No offense to Bill Plaschke (or John R.), but the mere suggestion of trading Kobe reminds me of the following line from the movie “Billy Madison”:

    “Nowhere in your rambling, incoherent response did you come close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. We are all dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    Plaschke’s article is exactly why I get my sports news from blogs like this, rather than from reading sensationalist speculation that passes for news in the LA Times.


  9. Trading Kobe would absolutely kill the fan base, especially me. Aside from having a purple and gold heart, what motivation was there to watch the Lakers these past three seasons?

    Good thing it’s not going to happen.


  10. here’s the article on Kobe wanting out if West doesn’t return..


  11. My heart sank reading that article. Reminds me of the feelings i had back in the summer of ’04.


  12. franchise98bn May 27, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Deja Vu…anybody….it’s starting to really feel like the summer of ’04 again. I don’t know about you but I feel a Kobe trade comming sooner then anybody thinks. With Mitch and Jim Buss at the wheel, this franchise will NEVER be a contendor again. We are one step away from becoming the Celtics if we lose Kobe.


  13. Jerry West could come back, but the damage has been done.
    with little room to trade, cook and vlad were signed to
    average salaries, but are not performing to that level.

    also, It feels like Kobe is putting pressure on Bynum to either
    (1) demand to be traded or (2) work a lot on his game.


  14. Kurt,

    During this 06-07 season, you often pointed out statistically how valuable Kwame was to the Lakers in terms of +-. Phil kept finding ways for the Lakers to use him–nagging injuries and all. Other Laker coaches want Kwame resigned when his contract expires next year.

    Now you seem to dismiss all of that, calling him C- with a bad reputation—and virtually untradeable except as “filler.” Sounds like a self fulfilling prophecy to me.

    You said, “There was no GM in the league saying, ‘You know who would make my team better? Kwame Brown.’”

    A few years ago, there was–and Mitch Kupchak may have been right. As I’ve suggested before, the ONLY helpful strategy for Laker fans is to give Kwame lots of support and love. After all, next season is his last year under contract. If he responds favorably and really performs well, he wins for us or we trade him mid season. In any case, we win.

    Insult, demean, and discourage him, and he may not perform at all. That truly makes him untradeable. He gets released for nothing–like Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Devean George . . . . .

    The Lakers know that sometimes their worst enemies are their best friends.


  15. I thought West left because he lost a power struggle w/Phil. Is Kobe indirectly asking for Phil’s head?


  16. The Caron for Kwame trade didn’t make us better. If we still had Caron we would have more defense at the 3, more consistent scoring/another scoring option, and team chemistry. Caron’s the type of player that wants to win, knows how to win, and can win.

    Not only that, but if we still had Caron, we would actually have something to trade.

    Hell, if we had West at the time of the Bynum draft, he would have traded our number 10 pick down, and drafted David Lee and would have not passed on Monta Ellis or Salim Stoudamire in the second round.


  17. I agree with Kurt. Kwame doesn’t make too many teams better and he really doesn’t make too many teams better with his shackling contract. It’s evident to anyone watching the Lakers that Kwame doesn’t “get it.” He doesn’t understand help defense. He doesn’t understand spacing on offense. He’s not a great rebounder. He can’t catch the ball, especially in traffic. He doesn’t know how to finish around the rim. If Kwame Brown is really affected by the “blood thirsty” LA fans (really? have you heard boston or ny fans before?) then he was already useless to begin with. Not only that, we gave up Caron Butler for Kwame Brown and wizards fans everywhere thank the lakers every single day for sending them an all-star for a $9 million headcase with chronic injuries. Those are just a few of the problems with Kwame as a player being expected to contribute in a meaningful way.

    Kobe saying he wants to be traded if they don’t hire Jerry West back as GM is a punk move. He has every right to be disappointed in the Lakers performance but saying Jerry West is going to come in and magically fix things is ridiculous and I’m going to guess that he knows just how ridiculous that is. Is he looking for a way out of lakerland while trying not to seem like a quitter and placing all the blame on the front office? it’s possible ladies and gents. I’m one disappointed lakers fan if that’s the case. We’ve all been over the whole salary cap and available players issues a few times. The lakers are facing long odds to sign anyone, trade for anyone, or significantly improve through those types of transactions. The last thing the Lakers need is Kobe basically telling every one of his teammates through the media that he thinks they suck AND putting more pressure on the front office to do the impossible RIGHT NOW. it’s just not possible and kobe should know that. regardless of who is at the helm.

    And if Kobe is going to blame his teammates for holding him back this year, I’m inclined to say he had a subpar year defensively and lacked consistent effort on that end of the floor. He was getting beat off the dribble and with backdoor cuts with regularity this year. His defensive lapses were almost always due to lack of effort. That attitude is contagious and he should realize that if he were to try harder on defense, he’d energize the team a lot more than they are now. Why should those players play their hearts out on defense when he’s always letting his man get to the paint or have open shots?


  18. 14. The thing about +/- numbers is they say as much about the other players at your position as they do about you — if they guy that subs in for you does a better job you look worse, if he sucks you look better.

    In Kwame’s case, the inconsistency of Bynum made Kwame the best option the Lakers had. But don’t mistake him for a good option. And, as I was trying to convey, while I think he was a slightly below average center, because of his body of work in the NBA his reputation is worse than just average or slightly worse. That and the surgery make him much harder to trade.


  19. 19. On a different note, those comments by Kobe to ESPN are interesting, but what he told the LA Times for Monday is different:

    Bryant said he did not link his future with the Lakers to the hiring of West, as reported Sunday. He has not asked for a trade and did not foresee seeking one if West was not hired.

    “I would love for him to be a part of this,” Bryant said. “But it’s not something where I demand he comes here. All I can do is offer my thoughts. I love being a Laker. I want to retire a Laker. I want to fix this thing, or at least help any way I can.”

    My gut reaction: He knows he won’t be traded but the threat rattles some cages. He knows West and Phil Jackson didn’t get along so its not going to happen. But, the threat he could walk two seasons from now might push Laker management to do something dramatic.

    As I said, that’s my gut reaction. Does anyone have a different take? What did you guys think?


  20. Reading what Kobe said and listening to Ric Bucher tell you what Kobe said are two VERY different things. Kobe is obviously frustrated with the current Lakers – he’s really the only veteran in the rotation. They are obviously rebuilding and allowing Kobe to keep the fans happy while they do it (Paul Pierce in Boston anyone?). But it didn’t sound like he was demanding Jerry West or trade him…it sounded a heck of a lot more like he’s lost faith that the front office of the Lakers cares about winning NOW and is content to wait till LATER.

    I think Kurt pretty well summarized things: the threat of trade rattles some cages. And the Lakers front office needs some rattling. This year’s team wasn’t going to win it all, healthy or no. Next year’s won’t either unless there’s some drastic changes made.

    I know the Lakers have limits on their assets…but they still have quite a few good chips: A mid-level exemption, #19 pick in the strongest draft in a decade, Andrew Bynum (who has a LOT of appeal in the league, especially with Oden coming in), and Kwame’s expiring contract (while not a chip, per say, it’s the grease on the wheel). That’s more than enough to reshape this team into contender form.

    The Lakers were on a 50 win pace before the injuries began…Which really shows how amazing Kobe is and how much he carries this team. Add in Odom, Walton, Farmar and the rest of the young bunch, plus 2 or 3 CAPABLE veterans (no more Aaron McKie – wtf?) and you have a team that can really challenge for the title.

    I’m not talking get JO or Gasol or even Artest…just add a few cagey vets who can be trusted. Imagin Kobe, Odom, Walton, Farmar, Evans, Turiaf, VRad, Cook being paired with guys like Kurt Thomas, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, PJ Brown, Bruce Bowen, etc., etc..

    Now here’s the real problem: Does anyone trust Kupchak or Buss to know which players are Derek Fisher’s and which players aren’t? I think the Lakers could make the moves needed without trading Bynum or Walton or Farmar or Odom. But it takes better talent evaluation than the Lakers have recently shown. To me we have the essence of a championship team, but outside of Kobe, not the mentality or character. We need vets to instill that. I don’t know who and I don’t know exactly how – but then again I don’t get paid to figure that out either!


  21. I commend Bryant for finally speaking up. Someone has to wake up the brain dead Jerry Buss who needs to stop letting his little boy play with his toys. I cannot say I didn’t see this coming from the moment Jerry West left years ago. Buss thought he could replace West with Kupchack? Mitch Kupchack is the worst GM in the NBA. After all the horrible personnel decisions over the past 5 years (the list is too long!!) does anyone need any more proof?? And to make matters worse Buss turns over the team to his clueless son? All of Buss’s cost-cutting moves backfired on him….This downward spiral has been draining and depressing, enough is enough…Kobe Bryant speaks the TRUTH!


  22. It’s disturbing to read the crap written by the latimes sportswriters, especially those of Plaschke, Adande and Simers.

    Is it too much to ask for agenda-free reporting/analysis nowadays from sportsguys?

    Kobe is doing the right thing and the media tools want to stir things up by spinning and twisting things.


  23. I don’t think Kobe’s “do something and do it now” urge is neccessarily asking for big trades. Anything that can help the Lakers be in the right direct to build a contender soon will be welcomed by Kobe. Just not the crap the FO has been doing so far, that’s exactly the ground zero.


  24. Regarding Kobe’s teammates….

    Trust me, if your superstar’s rolling his eyes and making ugly faces every time you miss a shot, or if he decides it’s just not worth it to pass you the ball when you’re open because he knows you’ll miss, your confidence will wane to the point that your game will go south.

    That was from Chris Broussard’s blog in for some reason I can’t help but think of kobe in relation to that statement


  25. everybody knows May 28, 2007 at 9:23 am

    you just introduced and educated me on the subject of concrete blonde, thanks


  26. I think West will be back as a consultant and Kobe won’t be going anywhere. Jerry Buss will never let the Lakers relationship fall off to the point where they have to trade him because he is the reason they can charge outrageous prices for tickets without the team improving much.


  27. The problem with Kwame is that he can’t play the PF, even though things he does or has the potential to do are perfectly suited to that position. If we could get Kwame to play the PF position, rebound like a beast, play tenacious defense, get an easy dunk here and there, and get out of the way of a center (Bynum??) who could score, a lot of problems on this team would be solved. That and trade Odom for Kidd and sign a shooting SF with the MLE.


  28. Derek Banducci May 28, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Kobe does not want to become KG. Kobe was a good company man for three years, until it became obvious that the Lakers were not improving. Now, Kobe is rightly demanding improvement because complacency by a star player leads to a wasted career (see KG). Kobe has enough leverage at this point, because he can walk in two (?) years, to make the Lakers brass take his demands seriously.

    That said, Kobe is not going to be traded. Period. Think about it this way, take KG’s odds of being traded this off-season (1.32%) and then divide that by 100. The odds are 0.0132% that Kobe gets traded. It’s just not going to happen.


  29. Get ready for about a hundred more shocking “Kobe Demands Trade!” articles during this off season. But this is definitely a situation of “Where there’s smoke…there’s a butt it’s being blown up.” (PG-13 Edit)


  30. From
    Anyone watch Steven A. Smith on “the Blitz” this morning. He was talking about how Kobe was pissed at management for not bringing in any help (if you didn’t know Kobe reiterated his frustration in an LA Times article yesterday). Here’s a couple of gems that he decided to share with us about Mitch Kupcakes and the Lakers organization:

    – He said that he spoke with Baron Davis in GS last week and Baron told him that he really wanted to play in LA before he signed with Golden State. Baron said that he had told the Lakers organization that he was willing to sign for less money to play with the Lakers…………Mitch and the Lakers declined

    – Steven A said that the Lakers had deals for Boozer, Artest, JO and Kidd on the table in the last year and the Lakers turned them all down because they didn’t want to part with Bynum

    – He also said that Kobe found out that Caron Butler (his best friend on the 2004-2005 roster) was traded after the trade had actually taken place. They didn’t call him, didn’t consult him, and didn’t even bother to tell him.

    Sounds like manangement has totally screwed this team and Kobe Bryant.


  31. Either Butcher or Kobe ain’t being honest. My take is Kobe sees that after 3 yrs the Lakers are no closer to a title,that they have uncertainty at Center,no PG and either no SF or PF(depending on where Lamar plays),that no one player can come in and make the Lakers contenders-except perhaps Duncan. Kobe tries what worked before,he threatens to leave unless changes are made. But he doesn’t get the OMG,KOBE’s GONNA LEAVE,DO SOMETHING!!! reaction he was looking for,so it’s time for damage control.

    Not to be too cynical,but has anybody in LakerLand looked at the job West did in Memphis? You would have to look hard to find any smart-much less brilliant- moves other than his first big trade where he fleeced a Hockey guy running the Magic.

    Assuming someone in the Organization tells Kobe he’s going to have to wait a couple of yrs before the Lakers are true contenders,here’s my suggested off-season:
    1)Odom to Boston for Ratliff,West and the #5.Draft Noah.
    2)Kwame,Radmanavich to Portland for Miles,Webster and Jack.(Ideally see if package Jack and a first for Miami’s Wright)
    3)Walton for Buck’s Gadzuric in S&T.
    4)Rueben Patterson w/as little of the MLE as possible and as short acontract as possib.Perhaps 2 yrs at $4-5.5mil ea w/team and player option after first.

    Lakers are taking on alot of dead money in Ratliff and Miles(who I’d buyout),but the team gets more athletic and a hell of a lot better defensively.-altho will struggle for a yr offensively while the new guys learn the Triangle.


  32. It was fairly obvious that Odom and, probably, Kwame were going to have off-season surgeries. It was also fairly obvious that teams weren’t going to trade for players under the knife. I don’t know why we keep talking about trading Odom and Kwame – it is very, very unlikely to happen – and we would get less ‘on the dollar’ if we are able to trade them. Look for next year’s trading deadline to move either Odom or Kwame, not this summer.

    Mitch has been doing better drafting players of late, but he hasn’t shown too much aptitude in signing vets. This is where he will have to improve to help the Lakers next year.


  33. 1. The LA Times is desperate to generate readership right now, they are going all out with this non-story.

    2. Kobe needs to stop talking, it only highlights the plight of our team and generates stories about how untradable our players are.

    3. Focus on signing 2 quality free agents and re-organizing our offense, defense and substitution patterns. This includes not signing Walton, finding a suitable 3 (preferably James Posey) and a good shooting 1 (preferably via trade- Troy Hudson).

    Like it or not Kobe, small moves are the only thing coming.


  34. ^^^Troy hudson? Eek.


  35. Sorry for the double, but ESPN just reported a statement by Jerry saying that he isn’t planning to be a part of ANY organization.


  36. well, if we really had a chance at Carlos Boozer,
    which I don’t believe at all, then they screwed up.

    but jason kidd?? yeah he played well this year,
    but do you really think that, with all our injuries,
    we would have beaten san antonio this year?

    I mean, look at LA’s past. They traded a veteran,norm nixon for a rookie, byron scott, not the opposite. and that line up of Magic,Scott,Worthy, M.Cooper and Kareem had to wait 3 years to win . 82 to 85.

    Ok, in 1984 they almost won, but still, taking
    jason kidd at this point is a gamble.

    bynum for jermaine oneal, I don’t believe it either, but if they had a chance, they were stupid not to trade.
    Jermaine is same age as kobe, he will still play for years now. At PF, he can still play at least some 5 years at a good level, which would match Kobe’s peak.


  37. people out there, take a look at Jermaine Oneal’s career!!!
    Came in at age 19, played
    4 sucky years at portland, playing 12 minutes, 4 points,
    3 rebounds, 1 block at best.,
    THEN he gets traded to indiana.

    He plays 32 minutes, 13PPG, 9boards2.8 blocks!!!

    Look at bynum’s 2nd year:
    22minutes, 8points, 6 boards, 1.6 blocks.

    come on, I wouldn’t trade Bynum for a veteran.

    no way.

    If kobe wants to win, then get some tapes of rodman,
    david robinson, and teach bynum how to rebound well !!!


  38. ok, … first I said trade bynum for jermaine, then I said
    not to trade him for a veteran… I really meant jason kidd.

    jermaine is 28, he will play as long as kobe.

    As for Luke, I don’t know, he improved, but I still want to see him defend well. I hope he doesn’t demand much to
    resign. Probably teams will offer the MLE.


  39. Did anyone else think Rambiss was being very dismissive of Young Buss? And it was interesting to hear Kurt talk of tweaks vs Buss’ major deal.
    The first thing the Lakers need to do is get their Management all on the same page.


  40. warren (philippines) May 29, 2007 at 2:11 am

    Heres my take:

    1. Jermaine is undergoing the knife too. Maybe we can swap him with Odom and salary fillers. Sign-and-trade with only the 1st year salary guaranteed. I prefer Odom though as it could mean Bynum is asked of.

    2. I would personally like to see Kidd next year wearing Lakers #5. That means I am trading Farmar, Luke and Kwame plus #19 and #40. If we could somehow get Kidd without Bynum, would it make it better? (Assumption only)

    3. Utilize the MLE on strengthening the bench. Role players like Kapono (3.5M) or Posey might work. Eddie Jones (1.5M) too.

    The essence is we get Kidd and our offense can be a combo of triangle and uptempo. There is no rule stating we cannot run. Running makes us score more efficiently and slashers such as Kobe, Mo Evans and Lamar thrive in this system. We make up for a mini Phoenix team when we run. We have finishers aplenty. On the triangle, we will have Eddie Jones and Jason Kapono and even Vlad Rad to hit the 3 for us.

    If it doesn’t work, Kobe walks in 2 years time, Kidd’s and Odom’s contracts expire. We only have to wait how it pans out. I bet for better.


  41. i understnad that kupchak is a noice guy, and that teams don’t want to help out the lakers if they can possibly not do so. given that, kupchak has still done a terrible job for the organization.

    not pulling the trigger on the boozer trade two years ago has really bitten the lakers in the ass. and trading caron butler, although not as egregious has shown a lack of talent analysis that the lakers have historically had. i’m tried of the inertia, and getting rid of kupchak won’t solve all the lakers’ problems, but it’s a good start.


  42. According to Stein: “As for potential protest from Phil Jackson? Not an issue. As discussed here in early May, I’m told that Jackson wouldn’t oppose the reunion.” I’m personally all for him coming back as a consultant and don’t see how it could hurt really. I’ve asked before, does anyone know how his relationship with Memphis is since he’s left? Would this build a bridge towards Pau?

    On Plaschke, that was just pathetic. Someone’s spent too much time shouting at other idiots on Around the Horn and has lost the ability to think rationally. Where was the indication that “Lamar Odom’s shoulder injury was as awful as expected”? Didn’t it go pretty smoothly?

    Finally, on the Kwame situation, I agree his value as an expiring contract is often overestimated, but wouldn’t be shocked to see him bring something back, even with the surgery. Look at a team like Portland: already over the cap, a couple of atrocious longterm contracts that make Vlad look like a bargain (LaFrentz at 11m, Pryzbilla at 5m), and a big crop of young kids who are going to need to get paid in a few years. The 12m Randolph is on for the next 5 years is going to be a problem when half their roster needs to be signed for non-rookie money with no cap space. I wouldn’t be shocked to see guys like him traded for contracts+picks. (Not to say that’s a move we should make necessarily, just that it might be a possibility)


  43. 39. I think you are getting to the crux of what is going on right now, there is some power-sharing issues within the Laker management and that as much as anything has and will continue to slow down changes to the roster. Everyone does not appear to be on the same page. The problem is, with the guarded Laker front office, nobody really knows.


  44. Another take: People who aren’t making demands don’t have to spend very much time denying that they are making demands.

    Trade Kobe now before he tears apart the front office too. The last thing the Lakers need is ANOTHER cook in that kitchen. If the vision wasn’t singular before…

    Jerry &
    Jim &
    Jeannie &
    Mitch &
    Jerry &


  45. To my mind, the biggest problem the Lakers have is defense. Free agency is the the most logical place to find defensive minded players for reasonable money. A big point guard who defends and hits the three would, I would argue, make a load of difference for the Lakers. And Kobe needs to play better team defense, period. Better defense and less injuries would have resulted in 50+ wins and at least the second round. To truly contend, they need an impact player who can get his own shot, preferably a big man.

    We’re stuck with Kwame, so it seems to me the best course is to try to help him improve. I’m probably in the minority here, but before his ankle injury, I thought he played very well with a good attitude and confidence. I think there are NBA playes who are much better for the same money, but I think we’ have to wait unti his contract expires to get them.


  46. The problem with Kwame is that he simply isn’t a competitor.


  47. 25. Glad I could do that. Concrete Blond (alongside X and Social Distortion) probably the band I’ve seen live more than any other.