Itâ€™s blown up all over â€” Jerry Buss sat down with reporters in Hawaii and said heâ€™d consider trading Kobe. He doesnâ€™t want to, but heâ€™ll consider it.
There are plenty of people saying this â€œdumped gasoline on the almost extinguished fire,â€ but if Buss had come out and said â€œwe will never trade Kobeâ€ that is what would have set #24 off again.
If you read both stories (LA Times and OC Register) I think this is just Buss being honest about what happened this summer. First, Kobe goes Vesuvius. Eventually Kobe sat down with both Mitch and Buss and, as Buss said, they made their pitches and Kobe said he is still frustrated and would like out. Then I think they both told him â€œif thatâ€™s what you want, weâ€™ll keep an open mind, but weâ€™re not going to trade you for Luther Head and an expiring contract or two.â€ Buss said heâ€™s kept Kobe apprised of the lowball offers that rolled in, so Kobe would understand.
If Buss had played to the fans and taken a hard line in the interview â€” directly contradicting what he told Kobe to his face â€” that is what would have destroyed what is left of his relationship with Kobe, it would have hardened Kobeâ€™s heart toward opting out regardless of what the Lakers did. So Buss professed his love of Kobe, said he wants to make moves that would keep him here (â€œ”I wish he felt differently. And if we win, I think he will feel differently. So we’ll just wait and see if we can win.”) and at the same time put other GMs on notice that they will not be taking lowball offers â€” come for real or donâ€™t come at all.
And Iâ€™m not sure any of this is really a big shocker. Kobe knows that his frustrated outburst hurt his chances of being traded (or getting a trade that would help him out) so he will continue to say all the â€œgood soldierâ€ stuff. If Buss had taken any other tack in that interview, things might have been different.
Buss traditionally does one of these camp interviews, and he usually looks big picture. Heâ€™s got short-term issues (Kobe, not to mention Philâ€™s contract) but panicking on these issues is how teams end up with the Knicks roster from last season.
So, we wait and tonight watch game two of the Lakers and Warriors. As was said after the last game, the Warriors are a team that makes many a defense look disjointed. What we want to see is improvement â€” from players and the team â€” as the preseason wears on. So that is what Iâ€™m looking for.