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Old 10-01-2007, 02:56 PM   #1
xxxSuperStar
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Default Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

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MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- Phil Jackson sat sipping his favorite soft drink, the Arnold Palmer mixture of lemonade and iced tea. Jackson's cane, the one he uses as he recuperates from a second hip-replacement surgery, lay an easy putt away. Behind Jackson, the sun began to set into the glittering Pacific Ocean. The symbolism was obvious, even to me.

Is the sun about to set, not only on the brilliant coaching career of the newest NBA Hall of Fame coach but also on the glorious success enjoyed by the Los Angeles Lakers?

"We're at a critical point," conceded Jackson. "Players [once] jumped to get the opportunity to play with the Lakers. It meant an opportunity to maybe win a championship. Now we have to compete real hard for free agents.

"This is a team that is probably the No. 1 [road] fan attraction. It's got a mystique about it. We are definitely covetous of that past. We know Kobe Bryant is one of the reasons why we are the team that draws like that. We need to add to that, by our play or the bettering of talent."

NBA training camps open Monday for the 2007-08 regular season, which starts Oct. 30. There are many interesting story lines beyond the intrigue inside the Staples Center, like the San Antonio Spurs' quest for their first championship repeat and the rebirth of the Boston Celtics with All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce. There's the Western Conference challenges posed by the Phoenix Suns with Grant Hill, and the Dallas Mavericks along with the revitalized Houston Rockets, now with international star Luis Scola and new coach Rick Adelman.

In the Eastern Conference, the popular pick is for the Bulls to finish on top of a wide-open conference, with challenges coming from Miami, Cleveland, New Jersey and Detroit. And watch out for Milwaukee (with China's Yi Jianlian) and Toronto with a team disguised as entrants in a three-point shooting contest.

And yet, one of the most captivating dramas will play out near Hollywood. Bryant, who last spring declared his independence from his team, is expected to be in training camp and play the season for the Lakers.

Bryant, generally regarded as the league's best talent, can opt out after the 2008-09 season and would be the biggest catch in a league that has seen stars like Garnett and Allen traded and had others like Shawn Marion and Andrei Kirilenko wanting the same.

"I think Kobe is ready and willing," Jackson said. "I think there's obviously some residual effect. He said his piece. He made his intent known. I think he understands this business and he's going to come back.

"My message to Kobe has been, 'You can't just play with your body and you can't just play with your mind. You have to have it in your heart too.'

"Kobe is a guy who understands that, whatever, he has six, seven [good] years left in his career and he wants to win," said Jackson, who also is evaluating his own health as he enters the final year of his contract. "We've talked about Michael [Jordan] coming back at 32, 33 how remarkable it was and winning championships. He understands that, the wear and tear. He wants to go out and finish off his career like he was five, six years ago."

With the Lakers?

Jackson acknowledges the Lakers now are, "realistically, a second-tier team in the West. We want to crack that [top-four] tier. We have to step up into that place where Utah got last year."

It seems clear that's how Bryant and Jackson will measure their futures. The belief among many in Los Angeles is if the Lakers have another poor season, it might lead to a Bryant trade.

Those around Bryant say he continues to talk about the Bulls.

Only Bryant would embrace the chance and challenge to upstage Jordan in Chicago. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but Bryant changed his Lakers' uniform number to 24 and took No. 10 with the U.S. Olympic team. Jordan wore No. 23, of course, and No. 9 in the Olympics.

One more than Jordan?

I wouldn't put it past Bryant to believe he could win four championships with the Bulls to get to seven overall after his three with the Lakers and Shaquille O'Neal.

The Bulls appear on the verge of making it back to the Finals, and Jackson is among those who are impressed.

"They made a good run," Jackson said. "They showed last year they can win playoff games. They had that humiliating pounding by Detroit when they were not able to score. I think it made them savvy and probably helped them."

So if the Bulls are close, is Bryant the final piece? Could Jackson, who seems committed to living in California with a strong relationship with the Lakers' Jeanie Buss and a beachfront home, be the guy again, as he once was, to get the Bulls to Point C (which we now know stands for championship)? After all, the Lakers hired him twice.

But don't discount the Bulls' consistent improvement under Scott Skiles.

It's a lot of ifs and buts, though who imagined Garnett would be in Boston? Or that Shaq would be traded.

Michael Jordan instructed us to never say never. It's the fun of the NBA. You never know whose personal agenda is going to change some team's history.

sasmith@tribune.com
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Old 10-01-2007, 03:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

Interesting, good post Supa. I read an article in the Daily Herald today that said if the Bulls don't extend Ben Gordon's contract by the deadline, that could be a huge tell, in that if his contract is extended, he pretty much can't be traded this year. I don't think Kobe will be a bull this year at all, it's possible in 1 to 2 years more. If the Bulls can reach the finals this year, i don't think you will ever see Kobe in Chicago. The bulls need to go out and show that they can be a great team, win the East and make people drop the Kobe trade talk.
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Old 10-01-2007, 03:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

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Originally Posted by Dengness9
Interesting, good post Supa. I read an article in the Daily Herald today that said if the Bulls don't extend Ben Gordon's contract by the deadline, that could be a huge tell, in that if his contract is extended, he pretty much can't be traded this year. I don't think Kobe will be a bull this year at all, it's possible in 1 to 2 years more. If the Bulls can reach the finals this year, i don't think you will ever see Kobe in Chicago. The bulls need to go out and show that they can be a great team, win the East and make people drop the Kobe trade talk.

I think it could still happen near the trade deadline, especially if the Lakers are floundering and the Bulls aren't playing well. If he is seriously telling those close to him he wants to go to Chicago, then if the Lakers aren't asking for the house, that is where he'll end up as he'll have a say in where ever he goes.
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

I think Kobe would make the Bulls title contenders. He gives them a go to scorer and some much needed size at the SG position.
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

Heinrich
Kobe
Noci
Noah
Big Ben

That's an outstanding lineup. Especially defensively. I don't know how good Noah will be, but we already know he is defensively minded and big hustle. Between him and Noci, the Bulls will get every freakin' loose ball.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

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Originally Posted by bleedinpurpleTwo
Heinrich
Kobe
Noci
Noah
Big Ben

That's an outstanding lineup. Especially defensively. I don't know how good Noah will be, but we already know he is defensively minded and big hustle. Between him and Noci, the Bulls will get every freakin' loose ball.

Oh jeez. That line-up wouldn't win 50 games. If you are asking for Deng, Gordon and Thomas, you aren't getting it.

They'd be good defensively, but Ben only has a couple more years left, Noah is unproven, Nocioni is injury prone and Hinrich can be inconsistent.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

agreed again. Pax would never on Earth think of giving up BG, Deng, and Thomas. Deng for sure isn't getting traded, and Tyrus is probably close to that on potential alone. If Thomas has a good year i see him falling into the untradeable category. Everybody has to remember how good Deng is at just age 22 with just 3 years NBA exp, not to mention his playoff performance last year was just his second year in the playoffs. Tyrus is only 21, and with what we've seen already, i really can't imagine him at age 25-30, at that point he should be a premier player in the league. Like i have said 1000 times, i would only trade BG, Noc, Duhon or either/and Sefolosha, and like Joe Smith,plus draft picks. I would really not want to trade Noah either, because then we would have no one to take over at C for Big Ben and Nobody on the bench behind Big Ben now, and i sure as hell don't want any Lakers bigs, outside of Bynum who would never be involved in a Kobe trade.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

You all are funny... you have to give to get, so stop with the fantasy world... look what it took to pry away KG from Minni? If Kobe were to be traded, the team getting him would have to pay, and pay big.


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Old 10-01-2007, 08:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Lakers/Kobe/Bulls/Phil Interesting Article

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Originally Posted by xxxSuperStar
Oh jeez. That line-up wouldn't win 50 games. If you are asking for Deng, Gordon and Thomas, you aren't getting it.

They'd be good defensively, but Ben only has a couple more years left, Noah is unproven, Nocioni is injury prone and Hinrich can be inconsistent.

50 wins? Kobe won 42 with an injury riddled pack of scrubs.
Heinrich/Kobe = best backcourt in the league
Frontcourt = below average offensively, outstanding defensively.
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