Looking Past The Distractions

Kurt —  October 16, 2007

Man, this could be a long year for Lakers fans. Especially if Tuesday was any indication, where rumors about what was in Kobe’s locker became a mini-Chernobyl in Lakerland.

The question I have is can this Lakers team look past the ongoing media distraction and still succeed on the court?

Some teams rally around each other and become a force when they perceive that an outside force is attacking them (see the New England Patriots of 2007). Other teams simply become unglued in the heat of the media spotlight.

It’s clear that until the Lakers make a big move — sending Kobe out or bringing in talent to make this team a contender — that there will be a seemingly endless loop of ESPN.com roundtables, “Loose Cannons” more than living up to their moniker on talk radio, and much more. Every rumor — valid or not — is going to be handled with a Paris Hilton sense of perspective.

The question is can the Lakers be professional and not let it impact their play on the court? In a large part that falls on Kobe, who is too professional and too competitive to go Vince Carter on this team and not put out the effort, but he also must provide locker room leadership to minimize the distraction. Responsibility also falls to Phil Jackson, a veteran like Derek Fisher, and eventually on each player to do their part to keep a cohesive team.

Just like questions that will be easier to see on the court — like which center is earning playing time — the answer to this is something we will have to see play out. And unlike the things we can see more clearly with observation and statistics, we may never really get a full answer to the question of how much this impacts the team.

I can just hope the team — and we fans for that matter — can look past the soap opera distractions.

UPDATE: In case you haven’t seen it, Roland Lazenby offered his thoughts on this latest Laker drama in an email to Henry at True Hoop, comparing the Buss family to a Shakespearean drama, but reminding everyone Buss still knows how to play the game. He notes Phil tried to set up his pieces against the owner and front office as he did in Chicago, but Buss has played a lot more poker than those guys:

Phil had primed the pump this time by getting his pal Sam Smith at the Chicago Tribune to write a column saying Kobe ought to sit out the season. Jerry Buss could see the play coming. So the owner walked into training camp and knocked Kobe almost unconscious. We’ll trade your ass and put it on the table now, Jerry Buss told Kobe in so many words.

Phil was left gulping, Kobe speechless.

Phil has finally met his match in those juicy PR games that sell newspapers and books. Question is, do Phil/Kobe/Jeanie have another move? Or are they done, left slinking away sheepishly?

Phil wants another championship and he wants Jim Buss out of the way so that he can do it. It was Jim Buss, supposedly, who talked his father Jerry in firing Phil in 2004, so this thing has a history.

You have to read the whole thing. Thanks to Gatinho for the heads up.

UPDATE 2: Friend of this site Nate Jones has a great post up at Fanhouse titled “Staying Rational About Kobe.”

Kobe Bryant is too box office for the Lakers to move without some sort of fight. He’s not only valuable to Jerry Buss, but to AEG, the company that owns 30% of the Lakers and all of Staples Center. They’ve been able to completely develop downtown L.A. and a lot of these properties depend on the Lakers success. Buss knows this. Dude’s been doing this for too long to let the most box office player in the league go over unhappiness. Magic Johnson asked to be traded in the early 1980s, but Buss never let the guy go. He made things right.

———————————–

A few other links to pass along in the easy in the dreaded bullet point format.

• Now this is just damn funny (aren’t most things involving Agent Zero).

• I’m a little late to this party but still wanted to mention it. Recently baseball stats demi-god Bill James weighed in on what is needed to “fix” other sports, including the NBA. His main problem with The Association — the best team always wins. See, in the summer-long 162 game baseball season the best teams do rise to the top, but then come the playoffs and it’s a crapshoot (see Rockies, Colorado). James thinks that a certain amount of unpredictability is great.

Personally, I’m with the guys at The Painted Area who said, “Isn’t the best team winning the point?” I like that about the NBA, or for that matter about the English Premiership. Across the pond there are no playoffs for the league title, just the winner of the season (there are plenty of tournaments, but all for separate trophies, none of which my lads from Newcastle ever win). I love the volatility of the NCAA Tournament as well, but for a pro league isn’t the point to have the best team as your champion? Read The Painted Area response, they go into depth and say it well.

• Interesting little note for those following UCLA basketball: Star freshman Kevin Love will be wearing number 42 (the same number he wore in high school). Yes, that number is retired and hanging in the rafters at Pauley Pavilion, but Walt Hazard gave his permission to Love to wear the number.

Kurt

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52 responses to Looking Past The Distractions

  1. I loved the article at The Painted Area. Enjoyed the comments, too! Thanks Kurt, I needed that.

  2. I think the main difference to all the other distractions in other sports scenarios is that this is LOS ANGELES. where paris Hilton gets 24 hr breaking news status for a DUI…OJ, Phil Spector, ya da ya da ya da…
    so this is just the media doing what they do, but here it’s a frenzy like piranahs after fresh meat.
    it’s not going to go away.
    Phil is one of our greatest assets, (if the owner would just keep his mouth shut) we might be able to navigate through this mess. if anyone coach can do it, Phil can, so we are in the best possible hands in that regard.
    it does seem likely to me that there are talks going on which would mean a trade before the season even starts, and that is why KB is sitting it out now.
    then when you read the stance the Lakers are taking, not accepting a deal like LO, brian grant, etc for a HOF player, and if they could get a good package from the bulls, or Suns, then I say maybe it’s best to do it, make the move, and let’s move on with the ol’ franchise, see if this new team can come together.
    ahhhh, the Lakers…should be a soap, (but a prime time on HBO soap), seriously, just think of the ratings, the players, their wives, girlfriends, the owner chasing young girls, the incestuous front office, the stars in the stands…
    why not? (probably some writer already pitching it all over town)

  3. Personally, I would really like the team we have currently to go out and play basketball with some good health. Or, ideally, a team with Kobe compete a bit before we send him out. I hope this to be the case.

    Yet, everyone says Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, but I’d be surprised to see #24 in red. The deal would certainly blow up their fragile young core. Paxson wouldn’t dent it for Gasol, a move that would have likely put them over the top. Why break the bank for Kobe? Sure they would get hype, win some games, maybe make a playoff run, but, be better? Not too sure.

  4. Kobe makes every team better, obviously, but the real question is “How much better?” This is the most important issue, will the trade, and commitment of money, outway the potential years of youth that is developing nicely? The media has killed all the excitement revolving around the trade talk and has even begun to make me wonder… is there something that we just don’t realize as bias Lakers/Kobe fans??

  5. Kobe is sitting out because he played USA basketball all summer. If you look at the other players on that team they are all tired and resting as well. Kobe has so much wear and tear on his body for 29 yr old that he realizes to be as effective as possible during the season he needs to rest. Even Ric Bucher (who makes a living from making stories more dramatic than they really are) said that is why he is sitting out. People are just reading too much into this.

    As far as trading Kobe… I don’t think he will be traded any time soon. A team like Chicago will not be willing to break up their team until they think that they can not win a title with the current squad (which I don’t think they can though I think they are the best team in the East). Plus how willing is Reinsdorf (I think thats how you spell) to pay Kobe’s huge salary. He will make 24.5M in his final year of his current contract. Then he will want a max extension probably along the lines of what Shaq was asking for when he left LA. Plus I don’t see Buss accepting any deal for Kobe that does not include Deng and Paxson as of now is unwilling to trade him. I’d rather let kobe walk for nothiing then take a package built around Gordon.

  6. The difference between the Lakers and the Patriots is the Patriots are a team who plays for each other. The Lakers have different agendas including Kobes own. There is no unity and that will lead to implosion.

    I dont want Kobe traded, but he is turning into that girlfriend you want to get rid of even though she is very good in certain areas. Where Kobe used get all my support, even in the Shaq debacle, I am now so sick of his whining and unwillingness to stand up and be a Laker first and support his teammates. Yeah he wants to win, and hes won more then most players by far, yet when things are a little bad and they arent at the top he wants to bolt and people support him because he wants to win. Please. If he wanted to win so bad, why didnt he swallow his ego and get Shaq to stay. If he had apologized to Shaq for being a child and called Buss and told him to pay Shaq, how many more championships are in the cards?

    Dont trade Kobe for junk, but if a good deal comes along make it. If there is no deal, id hold onto him for 2 years, keep quiet, and see if one of the other Lakers improves to the point where the Lakers are better then anticipated or can be traded for that missing piece. If not, let Kobe walk in two years when he is 2 years older and you probably get something similar in a sign and trade for him that you are getting offered now.

    LEts shut up and play ball and see what happens.

  7. I agree if he walks he walks (i hope he doesnt ) but i would much rather have the cap space than to have a bunch of crap that they are going to be offred .

  8. The Zen Master? At a loss for words?
    ======================
    Asked if Bryant would play in Thursday’s exhibition in Bakersfield against Seattle, Jackson said: “I can’t comment on that.”

    Asked if Bryant would at least be with the team for that game, Jackson said: “I don’t know about that, either.”

    Told that his no-comments could give the impression that a Bryant trade was imminent, Jackson said: “I can’t comment on that. There’s nothing imminent. So I can’t comment on anything imminent.”

    Asked finally if he thinks Bryant has played his last game in purple and gold, Jackson said: “I can’t comment on that. I don’t know that at all. I mean, who knows that? Do you know it? We just can’t comment on that. There’s certain things I think that have to be discussed and will be and then we’ll move forward from there.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=stein_marc&page=KobeTradestein

  9. Before, the media hacks bashed Kobe for the false “forcing” Shaq out, now Kobe had to beg Buss to keep Shaq at 30 mils a year? Ridiculous. The disdain for Kobe by some fans blind their thinking.

  10. ryan,
    Very good observation about USA basketball. We are so current we have forgotten all about Kobe’s summer. I don’t think that is the entire story, but it is a really good piece of information that I, for one, wasn’t thinking about.

    Warren, previous thread…
    I don’t want Kobe traded. However, if we do trade him I also think the best time is at the end of the year, when clubs are disappointed and ready to change. A Kobe change during the year is too disruptive for the clubs involved.

    Finally,
    The soaps are not real and neither is the media. Los Angeles and New York should be treated as places on another planet. The reporting is so much based on innuendo – who’s is the question.

  11. Instead, lets talk about THE distraction. Lets talk about Kobe, lets talk about the Bulls. Then lets talk about Phil and lets talk about the whole situation.

    Kobe not playing obviously escalates tension. Sore knee or bruised ego, its all the same to me. This poker / chess game is turning out to be a very bad, ugly and bloody one. [Edit of trade proposal]

    Phil Jackson WILL NOT be coaching this team without Kobe. Time to call up Jeff Van Gundy and make him a consultant as early as now.

    I think Phil is the one voice media tends to revere and not abuse. Phil’s words are always of reason and of great relevance. If Phil lies, we all fall for it.

    The whole situation has gone mad. Buss’ ego was bruised upon hearing his “idiot” comment on him and now, while he is saying all the right things such as “business” and “equal value”, I think Buss meant all this to retaliate. Just when Kobe was saying words like “soldier” and all that stuff in between.

    So, if you ask me, it would take a miracle to salvage what is left of this relationship. Perhaps one Cinderella season of 60 wins and a trip to the WCF would be the ONLY assurance it lasts for more than a year… Other than that, I have submitted to the fact that the Lakers will be Kobe-less as soon as the summer of 08 hits the calendar. Yet, I am the forever hopeful of that Miracle.

  12. Craig, no Laker on the right frame of mind wants Kobe traded. I don’t, and I can vouch for the millions of others.

    I agree that the season’s end is probably the best and most opportune time to trade him. Find a high pick to add to the possible package.

    Lastly, Its such a sad situation for the Lakers. I’m not sure where my loyalty stands right now… I mean, as the cliche says, I’m a Laker Fan 1st, Kobe Fan 2nd, but I have little faith Mitch Kupchak and the future squad makes anything happen. Unless these 5 guys miraculously played every game like their lives depended on it… once again, Miracles.

  13. This is a bump in the road. Like many Kobe/Shaq dramatic episodes during their time together, in the end it’ll probably end up unifying and focusing the team more, especially because everything is so public.

    The makeup sex should begin in a few months.

  14. My favorite headline of the day is on ESPN.com:

    Kobe’s locker: Too Clean?

    Nah, this thing isn’t out of control.

  15. This feels like “nervous time in L.A.”

  16. Kurt,

    I think the 2007 Pats are a bad analogy. If Tom Brady went on every radio show demanding a trade in the offseason, then said he was cool, then acted noticeably different in camp than in years past, then we could compare. When you’re team captain/franchise player/leader has done what Kobe has done/is doing, things can’t just be put behind the team and the focus will never be 100% “about basketball”. I don’t care if they are professionals, they are also human and this stuff takes a toll. Unfortunately it takes a team’s 100% collective effort to be successful in this league even with the most talented teams. The Lakers are not one of those.

    I feel that until Kobe is traded, this team will be disjointed, inconsistent, and uninspired. From an on-court perspective I’ve never been so uninterested in a Laker season before. It’s a shame and it bothers me as a fan, but I’m so sick of this Kobe stuff that I want it to go away. There’s only one way to do that.

  17. Honestly, the media does exaggerate a ton and sensationalize everything, but let’s be real: this is just a little unsettling for me. Buss should have never gone where he went with his comments regarding Kobe. Kobe seems so insecure and Buss should have known that. That is why there is no way he should have even broached the Barcelona meeting. He should have just “said the right things,” like we’re frustrated, tired of losing, etc., and indicated that the organization as a whole is going to try to put it all behind them and move on together…with Kobe, Phil, and the rest of the team. THAT was the right move on his part. If he says that, there is no story to sensationalize. Nothing.

    Doing what he did though, seems to have a two-fold agenda. For one, he wanted to hurt Kobe. Mission accomplished apparently based on the short interview and reports out of “Kobe’s camp.” For his second purpose, check out this article I found on TrueHoop: http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-28-186/Roland-Lazenby–Jerry-Buss-is-Playing-No-Limit-Hold–Em-PR.html

    Not sure if that is the case, but it would not surprise me. It disgusts me, but doesn’t surprise me.

    Without getting into speculation and innuendo just for the sake of doing so, the Lakers cannot trade Kobe for 50 cents on the dollar…which would be anything short of a Deng AND Heinrich package from Chicago. If they can’t accomplish that, bite the bullet and let him walk in 2 years. Matching salaries and taking back junk is not worth it.

  18. 16. I’m using the Pats only as an example of a team that rallied around itself in the face of adversity, not as an ideal match for what the Lakers are going through. The Pats are way, way better than the Lakers.

  19. i recall that a poster over the summer said that being a Laker fan in the Phil/Kobe/Shaq era is like dating the school drama queen–except now, she’s not that hot anymore. .

    Since this team’s ceiling is about 48 wins and the second round, IMO, I find all the posturing and the media’s obsession with it , kind of pathetic. If I were a fan of an elite Western team, I think I would be snickering at the Lakers these days.

  20. This is a bridge story to hold the media until the Mitchell report comes out, A-Rod makes an announcment, the NBA season actually starts or whatever. It’s a noise maker during a slow time to appease the talking heads who have become so infatuated with hearing their own opinions that they can’t go a day where they actually report on the games without having some sort of drama angle or personal intrest angle that they can debate in circles around. The 24 hour sports media machine has become a beast that abhors a vacuum so much that even bad rehashed news is better than no news.

    “Kobe’s locker: Too Clean?”

    This has moved from sports reporting to something more akin to a gossip magazine, the actual sports are getting left behind, and we’re all the poorer for it

  21. 33,

    I agree with that, but Kobe/Jackson/Buss are also giving them stuff to work with, with all the manuevering.

  22. I think Buss said what had to be sad. I agree with 20, the media needed to add gas to a fire too. Bottom line, Kupcake and Jim Buss have no guts to make a trade after getting burned by every trade since they’ve had partial control over this team.

    Kobe took a shot at Jimmy a few weeks ago when he said “Jerry hasn’t had as much control of the team in the last couple years.” He’s calling for Jimmy’s head. If the Lakers actually want to keep #24, they better start with unseating Jimmy and bringing in somebody who knows what is good for this team (maybe Shaw?).

  23. Noboy really knows what’s going on, but Jackson definitely fanned the flames with his no comment-laden interview. If there is a trade in the works, I doubt it’s coming from Chicago. Dallas seems much more likely to me (and, yes, I understand that teams don’t like to make blockbuster trades within their own conference). The reason I say this: Dallas is the only team who has the parts, interest, money, bold ownership and urgency to make it happen. Last season they had the best record in the NBA, but left the playoffs with the same result as the Lakers. Cuban is a man who seems to prize drive over all else and Kobe is his favorite player. Kobe would be more likely not to veto a Dallas trade which depleted that team, because he knows that Cuban will spend rediculous sums to rebuild. The Dallas payroll this year is already $20 million more than the Lakers. [Edit of trade proposal] The idea here is that any trade we agree to should be one that the other team has serious reservations about. We can’t do another Shaq for no all-stars deal. Otherwise, and I can’t emphasize this point enough, DON’T TRADE KOBE BRYANT!

  24. Mike in the Mountain West October 17, 2007 at 12:52 pm
  25. Kurt, the front page is still good, but sometime between comment 22 and 24 the comment page for this topic broke again in IE, just an FYI

  26. The media proposed trades get more and more ridiculious by the minute. SI has an article online now proposing Kobe to Boston for Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

    Yeah, that’s equal value right there. Media just talking to hear itself speak.

  27. Mike in the Mountain West October 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Buss is a great poker player and has put himself in a good position. By letting other GM’s know he is willing to trade to Kobe he improves his bargaining position for other trades. He is no longer the desparate owner trying to get help for his star but rather the owner looking to improve his team with several options. I think Odom or Kobe will no longer be with this team next season. If it’s Odom he’ll probably be gone by the trading deadline to either Indiana for Oneal or Pheonix for Marion. How these two teams start the season will play a big factor in whether this happens. If Odom isn’t traded by the deadline then I would expect Kobe to go sometime next summer.

  28. This thread is hardly “looking past the disctractions.”

  29. Quick point that not too many people have been discussing, a player who is planning on getting traded, generally does not hang around the practice facility. Why would Kobe be in El Segundo at the practice facility if he was planning on playing for another team next week. If he’s there from early in the morning, and leaves at 2:00 in the afternoon, surely he had enough time to do more than just clean out his locker. The media has found their story to blow up and thats exactly what has happened, no one can stop talking about it.

    It is our job to downplay all this talk and just believe taht we will have a successful and enjoyable Lakers season.

  30. Does anyone think this might be a Zen Master ploy to shift focus and pressure away from the team play ???? I am at a loss for sense of all this but he has admitted to mind games with the media, personell and management in the past. Maybe they are all in on this one? Just a thought……

  31. Mike in the Mountain West October 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    FYI I’m having a little issue with the site in IE. The front page is fine but when I go to the article with the comments the article jumps down and starts right after the links on the right side of the page end.

  32. Those of you having IE problems today, can you email me a screen shot. I’m not in a location where I can check IE myself right now.

  33. IE looks okay to me (checked on my computer). I seem to have the newer IE that has tabbed browsing and a slightly updated skin.

  34. I don’t like the way Kobe is implying that if Buss never said anything, everything would be cool. He’s basically acting as if he had completely forgotten about everything that happened this summer and that everything was fine until Buss’ statement magically made the trade talk relevant again. To me, that’s BS. Whether anyone was talking about it or not, the Kobe trade issue was there before Buss said anything is not going anywhere until Kobe is traded or sated.

    Buss didn’t add anything new to the situation with his interview. Both sides agree with that statement. So what’s the big deal?

    Because seriously, the elephant in the room is going to get noticed from time to time. It’s what happens afterwards that’s important. And in this case, the aftermath included Kobe sitting out three consecutive practices while not talking to the media. Kobe removing particular things from his locker in what has got to be the most publicized locker maintenance activity in the history of sports. And Phil making very cryptic statements about the team’s future.

    To me, those things are the things that are escalating the situation, not Buss’ words.

  35. enough…I dont care anymore….I want Kobe in LA…but…I got no say in it…and nobody else does except Mr Buss and kobe (since he has the no trade clause) and whatever team will be sucked dry to aquire him.

    I seriously think this is all filler..as post 20 (33) had said.

    But I did sign up for my first fanatasy league via Yahoo with some guys here at work. I wanted to Join the FBG one you guys had talked about…but…I have never done this fantasy deal before…so I am gonna see how this works and maybe join you guys next year (if its open to all comers). We did an auto draft….I made out pretty good I think. Some guy already wants to give me Bibby for my Lebron….this guy bumped his head!!!

  36. Its time that everyone begins to believe in the idea of a coincidence. There is simply nothing going on, the media is loving this trade stuff and all the potential stories they can write about Kobe Bryant, besides there is nothing else to write about in the NBA. Everyone knows the Celtics will be good. Everyone knows Miami is overweight. No one quite knows how good the rookies are going to be there year yet. Take a look at ESPN. There isn’t a single article under the NBA. There is no news. Kobe is all they have to talk about. Just realize that and move on from the BS. Lets talk about how good we can potentially do with the team we have today.

  37. 37.
    That was my stance when this whole thing started: the media is just blowing this way out of proportion. From my blog on 10/11/07:
    “Basically, someone in a position of power came out and made some blatantly honest statements and the media didn’t know what to make of it. It’s a non-story. But since it’s Kobe, the Lakers, and the possibility of the two no longer being a couple, it’ll catch some eyes.”

    But to call everything that has happened since a coincidence is debatable.

    *** Warning!!! If you do not want to hear anymore about this story (or non-story) do not read on. I am about to commit the crime of pointlessness and add even more useless opinion and observation to this oversaturated, out of control story. If you absolutely cannot stand seeing a stupid filler story being beat into the ground, the comment section of a blog is probably not where you want to be right now. I apologize. I am bored and there’s no actual basketball being played yet, so bear with me (or not). ***

    1) Kobe missing three practices is a coincidence?
    Perhaps, considering he played all summer for team USA. And there’s always his knee tendinitis. But then why did he practice and play 2 exhibition games before deciding, after Buss’ statement, that he had to rest his legs? C’mon, we’ve all seen Kobe pout before. You have to say there’s at least a chance that Kobe was pouting a little bit.

    2) Kobe and the locker?
    The coverage of this element was absurd to the point of being hilarious, especially on ESPN. But still, the LA Times was able to get an interesting answer out of Phil Jackson about Kobe’s locker.
    “There’s a book sitting there. There’s a net bag with some workout clothes that were sitting there this morning. There are things that were out of the locker, I will say that.” If it was just a trivial coincidence that Kobe took some crap out of his locker, would we get as thorough and thoughtful of an answer from Phil? Seems like he took the question pretty seriously. But maybe he answered the way he did with a sarcastic tone. In fact, I’d say that’s a fair theory. I’d give this one a 50/50 shot at being a coincidence.

    3) Phil’s cryptic comments and no-comments?
    “We can’t project anything right now. I think there’s a certain progression of things that we have to go through.
    We have to see how the feelings are in the situation, see if there can’t be some remedies for it. From there, the next step takes place, and that is, how do we go forward as a basketball club?”

    Or from ESPN:
    Asked finally whether he thinks Bryant has played his last game in purple and gold, Jackson said, “I can’t comment on that. I don’t know that at all. I mean, who knows that? Do you know it? We just can’t comment on that. There’s certain things I think that have to be discussed and will be and then we’ll move forward from there.”

    Basically, if there really is no story here, and this is all just the media blowing things out of proportion, Phil sure is helping them out a lot.

    Either way. I agree with you 37 (and 36). I want Kobe on the Lakers. I want this whole thing to blow over. I want to watch some damn basketball already.

  38. There were two comments earlier (#17 and #24) that linked to two very interesting articles. Nobody has really commented on this angle for things.

    My point in bringing this up is that Phil has been a master manipulator for his entire career in the NBA coaching ranks and he has recruited Kobe over the last 3yrs.

    Phil had a lot (not everything) to do with Jerry West leaving and he also was in conflict (along with MJ) with the Chicago honchos. He came out a winner in both those conflicts. Jerry Buss is not stupid and perhaps he has his own ideas and doesn’t want to be manipulated by Phil and Kobe.

    If you read the links you have probably already skipped to the next comment, but if you haven’t read them then go back to comments #17 and #24 and take read.

  39. I am wondering if everyone is missing the true story because of all the false drama. Are we looking at the story of the season, meaning Kobe slowed because of knee problems? He just went through the summer without a real break. Didn’t we see others like Brand get slowed down last year because of summer play? Are we going to see Kobe miss any serious action due to being overly banged up? I serious doubt it, or at least hope so. But it doesn’t seem like anyone is asking these questions of someone that is universally considered superhuman. Also, how do you think this will affect his tradeability?

  40. Coincidence IS the biggest conspiracy in the universe. It could be coincidence or it could simply be the will of the Powers that Be, but I think the Kobe situation is both.

    Phil likes to play mind poker. He stares you in the eye, catches you with that “cryptic” smile, and he hypnotizes you. What did you think he did to Bryon Russell in Game 6?

    I’m quite tired of this, really. Can’t we just get JO and get Artest from Sacto?

  41. Jeff T.,
    There are really a number of angles to the current Laker training situation. We tend to follow them serially, but they all work in concert. Your point about his real health, after a summer of intense competition, is another key point.

  42. A couple of general points. Recent history suggets teams get more trading elite players during the off-season. Shaq and T-Mac were traded for 3 starters off PlayOff teams,KG for a bunch of young talent and picks. Whereas AI and Vince Carter brought back much less when they were traded during the season.

    In the unlikely event Kobe was to be traded,you’d have to know how the Laker FO evaluates the team to guess at who the Lalers would trade for. If they think the team is health and a tweak or two away from contending they’d want completely different packages than if they think the team is a few yrs away or if they don’t think the roster will ever be contenders.

    I still am silly enough to believe the key parties will get together,”hug it out”, and see what the season brings. If by Feb. the team is floundering,the fire sale of Lamar,Kwame,and others begins.

  43. Buss is playing this the right way. Kobe cannot and will not pull a Carter on us, and Kobe CAN be appeased if the right opportunity comes along. If you have faith in a healthy Lakers team, then you can afford to sit back, especially since there is still ample time.

    Kobe, if he didn’t have his no-trade, would definitely LIKE to pull a Carter if only to REDUCE his value on the market and have something resembling a contender to join. But he does have that no-trade AND his image needs no more hits… So he will soldier along and will see what the Lakers are capable of IF they remain healthy.

    All in all, barring something very dramatic (which Kobe should object to since it would gut the team he will play for) Kobe will play this season. If the Lakers stay healthy and get past the first round, with perhaps some development from Bynum…

  44. I still am silly enough to believe the key parties will get together,”hug it out”, and see what the season brings. If by Feb. the team is floundering,the fire sale of Lamar,Kwame,and others begins.

    Stephen, this is the part that I agree the most. Dousing this flame will soon come and Kobe will play like nothing has happened at all. Media will continue to tickle the topic until one of Buss, Phil or Kobe will blurt out something out of the ordinary.

    I also agree that February is the middle ground. The Lakers can decide to keep Kobe, deal Kobe, keep the others or deal the others.

    There are 7 possible scenarios I can foresee with this…

    1 – Lakers get it together exceptionally, on pace to win 54 games. Team is kept intact, perhaps a minor tweak or two, no relevant names involved.

    2 – Lakers struggle as expected, sport a .500 record and Kobe talks intensify. Other teams are better positioned to assess themselves too, depending on the remaining schedule and the current record. I bet those that sport more than 12 games below .500 will soon decide to trade for cap relief.

    3 – Lakers deal key players to some Eastern team – preparatory for THE Kobe trade come summer. Kobe can be asked to sit out the last 2 months with pay, as the Lakers tank for the lottery.

    4 – Indiana budges on taking on Odom + Kwame for JO and Foster. Crittenton is more or less added here or the 08 1st.

    Or, Indiana takes on the Bynum-centered package. Indiana realizes cap space is more important at this stage than pride.

    Kobe signifies renewed commitment, perhaps waiving his option year in 2009. (Highly unlikely but perhaps miraculously possible)

    5 – Bynum contribute CONSISTENTLY for 8 pts, 12 boards and 2 blocks. Odom and Cook are dealt to Washington for Tawn Jamison and 08 2nd. Radmanovic will be traded, as long as he puts up 8-10ppg and 2 threes a night off the bench. Miami could be interested for a slew of expirings…

    6 – Unless the Lakers decide to FORTIFY Kobe, Kwame will not be traded. Fish and Walton remain with the team for the next 3 years at least.

    7 – Kobe is traded.

  45. No Buss apologetic media hacks and fans bother to criticize his big fat mouth. All he did with his interview is to distract the team and creat mess.

  46. This is a real distraction for us. Whether or not it is a distraction for the team is another story. Most of us have no professional sports background and I suspect those that do are not saying much these days. These guys have to put up with celebrity status every day of the season – I suspect they have a more even keel about things than we fans do.

  47. so…do we get TV coverage of tonight’s pre-season game?
    I was out of the country for the last 2, so this will be my first, and I for one, am excited that the Lakers are back on TV!
    maybe all this bruhaha will die down and we can get on with the season.
    nothing will cure all these recent ill’s like a winning streak!
    go Lakes!

  48. Props to Kurt for not posting follow-up stories from this morning to FB&G. I.E. PJ expects Bryant to play tonight. Really, the media has gone far enough, really.

  49. @ 45 Warren

    I like the scenarios but based on Phil’s reluctance to pull trades during the season, I think it’s more probable that the Lakers do nothing at all.