Kobe as a Bull?

It’s obviously big news by now – Kobe Bryant wants to be traded… or does he want to stay? Or does he just want Jerry West back in the Lakers organisation? At the moment the sentiment is that Kobe’s little outburst was just his emotions reaching boiling point, and who can really blame him given the success (or lack of) the Lakers have had these past three Shaq-less seasons. If by now you haven’t heard the “I would like to be traded’ words coming directly from Kobe’s mouth, you can at least read the full interview transcript with ESPNs Stephen A Smith here
So where to from here? At the moment there are more rumours and trade scenarios than you can poke a stick at, but I’m liking the following three situations best:

1 Kobe goes to Phoenix
Can you imagine Nash, Kobe and Amare lining up every game? The Suns already score 110 points a game without the most complete scoring weapon the game has ever seen – they would crack 120 every night and 150 on the nights Kobe was feeling it. Mamba wouldn’t have to handle the ball or even worry about getting in good positions to score. Nash would do that for him, and when the defense collapses he only has to throw the ball within 10 feet of the rim where Amare has more alley-oop-catching ability than Shaq ever did (even pre-fat Shaq). The Suns would lose Marion, Barbosa and some other junk in this deal, and the Lakers would surely consider themselves shafted (as if you can ever get real value for a Kobe trade), but in the interest of basketball fans all around the world I beg the powers that be “let this trade happen!” (and the Kobe/Bell subplot has me smirking the more I think about it).

2 Kobe goes to Chicago
They have the young pieces to make this deal work, they are clearly not a championship-calibre side yet despite the considerable talent they have on that roster, and they are the kind of big-ticket franchise that would suit Kobe to a tee (not to mention the inevitable MJ comparisons – as if Kobe’s game doesn’t already look enough like His Airness, without having to see him in a Bulls uniform). Problem is, the Bulls would still have a glaring lack of inside scoring that not even Kobe could make up for. They’d probably be the best team in the East, especially if Kobe gets to play along side Captain Kirk Hinrich, but there’s no way they contend for a title (unless Ben Wallace is secretly working on a low-post game as we speak).

3. Jermaine O’Neal comes to LA
No more posters like this for JOIf the Lakers want to keep Kobe happy they need to make this deal happen. Kobe and JO are best friends from way back (both came out of high school), they’ve both faced the tasks of leading their own teams with little success (don’t forget how good JO was back in ‘04 when they SHOULD have been in the Finals if not for Reggie Miller’s unforgivable decision NOT to dunk the ball with Tayshaun Prince trailing). They both know they need help, and more importantly I think they compliment eachothers games very well. JO won’t give the Lakers the inside presence that Shaq did, but defensively he’s more active, will be better at running the floor, and has a reliable mid-range jumpshot that would give Kobe pick ‘n roll oppurtunities that he’s basically never had before. They’re both roughly the same age and have a good 2-3 years left at their peaks. If they can get the right kind of talent surrounding them – really, just a decent PG is all they need – then that is a team that can contend for a title right away. Which is all that Kobe really wants.

As if this off-season wasn’t already going to be huge with the Oden/Durrant draft. Thanks to Kobe it may just be the biggest landscape-changing few months the NBA has seen since Dan Marjerle went back to the Phoenix Suns in ‘01 (ok maybe not that huge).

Comment posted by
at 6/4/2007 7:01:49 AM

1. If Shawn Marion really did make big plays you think the Suns would have had more success by now (i.e. he doesn’t). 20 points in the first half? Wow. How about just one bucket down the stretch of a big game? That’d be nice.

2. I almost laughed out loud after reading “Barbosa could lead the team”. Are you serious? Have you seen the Suns try and play basketball without Nash on the floor? I think one my TrashTalk buddies eze summed it up best when he said, consider that the Suns have the BEST 6th man in the league (and a point guard at that) yet when he comes on to the court for Nash they go to pieces. It is a fact. Phoenix can’t win without Nash on the floor, even with the best backup point guard in the world! I’m not making this up.

3. As for me making a big deal out of this “meltdown”, I can without any doubt whatsoever say that I have never seen a team be as bad without their leader than the Suns without Nash. You take Kobe, Duncan, even Lebron off their respective teams and at least they look like a basketball team. Without Nash the Suns literally lose the ability to think. He is their entire brain. I’d say the meltdown is bigger than I imply.

4. Obviously I’m not suggesting to use Kobe as just a late-game scorer, that would be ridiculous. He would be their leading scorer, but the offensive load on him would be so much less that it makes it easier for him to take-over late in games. Go and watch any game from the Shaq-Kobe era. Kobe doesn’t score 30-35 every night, he takes much less shots, and he handles the ball far less. But over the last 5 minutes he’s in his element. You don’t just get a scorer in Kobe, you get an extremely competitive player at both ends of the court who has proven his ability as a winner. He has had more success than any one in the league bar Duncan and Shaq. Give the man some credit.

forums.kickz101.com – go sign up!

you don’t happen to be a Suns fan do you? :)

Comment posted by
at 6/4/2007 2:56:44 AM

Although it is obvious that nash runs the team offensively, it is also clear that even without nash up front, the Suns have plenty of scoring options. Barbosa creates his own opportunities by being a lightning fast driver, Marion as well has the skills to drive past players and make big plays (tho he wasn’t too good towards the end of the season), This was clear when Amare and Diaw were out and Marion stepped up for 20 points in the first half. I believe that with a bit of training, Barbosa could lead the team, set up the offense, and do a damn good job of it.

All that said, there is no denying that the team runs a hell of a lot better with nash, (take the best player out of any team, and you’d see the same result) but i don’t think that without nash you get the meltdown that you imply.
Don’t use the Nash v Bowen/Duncan et al as an example of how the suns usually run. anyone with half a brain could see that the Spurs were slapping the shit out of Nash and not getting called for it. but that’s an argument for another day. let me just say that nash didn’t get tired in games during the season or the post season, and was only losing the ball due to the underhanded tactics of a dirty team.

To use Kobe as a “Fresh” scorer at the end of a game is a gross underuse of his talent. The suns don’t need him in that capacity, and it would be a waste of money to purchase a player of that calibur to use “When nash gets tired”… by the same rationale, if the suns had a big defensive presence, then nash wouldn’t have to work as hard at the defensive end, and could focus on his offense… i.e., the money would be better spent on a defensive presence.

Post the link to the trashtalk forum.

Comment posted by
at 6/4/2007 2:18:22 AM

Where to start… the “Phoenix style” is totally, utterly and completely due to Steve Nash. He runs this team, he drives the tempo, he finds the open players, and he happens to be a damn good scorer himself. The Suns score a lot of points because of him, but make no mistake about it, they do not have any “big scorers”. Do you think Amare, Marion, Bell and Barbosa would be high scorers on another team? Can you honestly see any of them being able to create their own shots and be a big-time scorer in this league? Cos if you do please enlighten me. Even Amare, who has a heap of talent, is hopelessly dependent on Nash getting him the ball in good spots – i.e two feet from the rim where he can dunk it.

Why would the Suns need another scorer? Did you watch any of the Spurs-Suns series? What happened down the stretch of every close game? The Suns couldn’t score, Nash couldn’t get past Bowen/Duncan, and he was clearly too tired to play at 100% effectiveness. Suns had no one to create their own shot other than Nash, and considering everything else he does for that team, it’s not an ideal situation (yes I know the Suns couldn’t stop Duncan either, but who can?). Stick Kobe on that team and the problem is solved. You get the Suns run ‘n gun game for the first 45 mins, and when its tight you have the best 1-on-1 player in the league for the opposition to contend with. Imagine how many open threes Nash would get with Kobe on his team. How often does Nash get open threes now?

So no, the Suns do not need more points – they need another avenue to score other than through Steve Nash, who by the way is a 6-foot white guy that can simply not score in the myriad of ways someone like a Kobe/Wade/Lebron can. You are right, they ALSO need a defensive presence, but I believe Amare can improve dramatically in this aspect. Kobe would also improve the Suns defensively, and his reduction in spent energy at the offensive end would let him concentrate more on D (just like he did back in the Shaq days – Kobe was a phenomenal defender back then). With Nash running this team the Suns are ALWAYS going to be an offense-first team, Kobe lets them put that philosophy into over-drive.

Agree with you on KG. He is a perfect fit for Kobe I feel. The burden on KG shoulders would be so much less playing along side Kobe I reckon you’d be able to see it on his face every minute of the game. He’d become a new player.

As for the Wallace boys, just remember they are both champions, Ben is a 4-time Defensive Player of the Year, and Sheed is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. Not sure what you’re definition of hack is, but I assume you’re just trying to get a Pistons fan fired up :) As for Billups over Sheed… not so sure I agree with you after watching Chauncey melt down over the past 5-10 games. Both of them are undeniably great players, I just think they have mental issues to sort through. Sheed needs some angry pills, and Chauncey needs a serious ego check.

PS – get on the TrashTalk forums so I don’t have to be the only one arguing with you :)

Comment posted by
at 6/4/2007 1:22:37 AM

The Phoenix style is that they play very much as a team, they have shown many scoring options throughout the season, Amare, Marion, Bell, Barbosa and Nash have all shouldered the scoring burden at one point or another. couple that with the rate at which the suns score, and it’s obvious that in the scoring department, they are not lacking. So why would the suns need another scorer? Kobe’s big strengh is his scoring ability, considering that the suns already have that part of the game down pat, i would say that he has a limited place in the suns lineup. Therefore, his style of play, as a big scorer, is would not gel with the suns (since they are already big scorers). What the suns need is a defensive presence to shut down the likes of Duncan, and power centeres.

KG would do for Kobe exactly what you are asking. someone else to go 25-30 during a game, and to take away from the requirement for Kobe to shoot every shot. He’d fulfill a similar role to what shaq did in the LA glory days. Granted, that this does not take the “bringing down the ball” dutues away from Kobe, but i think it would be much more help at the offensive end.

Ben’s a “Wallace” and, just like all “Wallace”s, he’s an overpaid hack. Rasheed is being paid more than twice what Billups gets, who do you think is more valuable? I’d take Billups over Rasheed any day of the week. As for Ben, he’s getting twice as much as anyone else at Chicago. And he’s a hack.

Comment posted by
at 6/4/2007 12:28:27 AM

How would Kobe’s style not go down well at Phoenix? I agree that Kobe would have to make some adjustments, such as resisting the temptation to go 1-on-1 too much, but for the most part he would find it ridiculously easy playing along side Steve Nash. The reason it works so well for Kobe is that Nash handles the ball alot, so the opposition has to focus more on Kobe when he’s moving without the ball – that is a lot tougher than focusing on him when he’s got the ball. Put it this way, can you really double-team a guy when he doesn’t have the ball?

Agree that anyone would be stupid to pay Ben what Chicago are paying him… he showed this season he’s lost his edge. That doesn’t make him a “hack”, just a good defensive centre.

Straight swap Dirk-for-Kobe is very interesting… would benefit both teams in a way. Solves the Lakers low-post scoring deficiencies and gives the Mavs a heap more tenacity and clutchness. Problem is that Kobe would again find himself shouldering most of the scoring load, just as Dirk “No-win-ski” did.

Whoever it is, Kobe needs to find himself on a team where someone else can go for 25-30 on any night. He also needs decent support at the guard positions to take the ball out of his hands, because that is what wears him down over the course of a game (and the season).

As for KG and Kobe…you think those guys would work well together Chucko?

Comment posted by
at 6/3/2007 10:01:03 PM

The suns have already indicated that they want to trade Marion, and it is possible that they could facilitate that trade, but i don’t know that Kobe’s style would really go down too well at Phoenix.

The bulls would have to trade half the team and some draft picks to get Kobe, and nobody wants an overpaid hack like Ben Wallace on their team, so he’s staying at Chicago (and therefore can’t be part of the trade)

The Mavericks should trade Dirk No-win-ski for him. Then Dallas would have a better all-around team, a star player that can make shots under pressure, lead the team, etc. Dirk, as good as he was in the regular season, just doesn’t have what it takes to win a championship or lead a team.

Alternatively, if someone can get KG and Kobe on the same team…. FWOAR!

Comment posted by
at 6/2/2007 4:34:29 PM

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