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Old 06-15-2007, 12:22 PM   #1
netdoc
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Default Kobe is the first priority

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Reader questions for Lakers beat reporter Mike Bresnahan.

Question: I was wondering what your input was on the whole situation with Kobe and the Lakers.

Randy Stockwell, Bridport, Vt.

Answer: Wow, the Kobe saga is even on the minds of Vermonters. Nice run for the Vermont Frost Heaves, by the way (2007 ABA champs).

The Lakers obviously have an unhappy superstar, which isn't a novel concept for them. Remember, Shaquille O'Neal complained after not getting a hefty contract extension, and, further back, Magic Johnson clashed with then-coach Paul Westhead.

On the other hand, this drama has been played out very publicly newspapers, talk-radio shows, and even on MySpace and there is a ton of money riding on it, be it the $88.6 million left on Kobe's contract or the untold millions he brings to the Lakers via corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, etc.

Personally, I don't think he is going to get traded this summer.

You can never say never in this league, but I'd say there's a 5% chance, at most. If Kobe continues to publicly assail the Lakers, then maybe the odds of a trade increase, but he has been quiet for more than two weeks.

Looking further into the future, if the Lakers founder next season, Kobe might be traded next summer. He has the chance to void the remainder of his contract in 2009, and the Lakers would not want to lose him for nothing.

For now, they will try to build around their nine-time All-Star.

For the future, anything goes.

Q: What moves do the Lakers have to make this summer?

everybody, everywhere

A: This question was (understandably) asked so many times by so many people, that I rolled it into one.

Here are five things the Lakers could do to restore some order, on and off the court. Disclaimer: Many of these moves are not that simple, but even connecting on, say, four of them would obviously help the team.

5) Re-sign Luke Walton.

One word: Steady.

Two words: Team player.

Because teams can offer their free agents more than competing teams, the Lakers can give Walton up to $11 million a year without affecting their salary-cap quandary, although that won't happen because he's not a franchise player.

The Lakers will probably offer about $5 million a year, but other teams are expected to offer Walton their full midlevel exception of five years and about $30 million.

I see a situation similar to Derek Fisher's decision to take a six-year deal and $36.6 million from Golden State after the Lakers offered less money and fewer years. Fisher got a nice payday but was admittedly unhappy after the Warriors traded for Baron Davis. He eventually ended up in Utah, which has turned out better for him.

Walton loves Los Angeles and just opened a barbecue-style restaurant in Manhattan Beach (good food too, I might add). He might take more money to play elsewhere, perhaps for a contender. He might stay in L.A., fearful of missing the beach life. Either way, he's in line for a significant pay raise after making $1.4 million this season. The Lakers would miss a solid all-around player if he leaves.

4) Get an effective big man.

Much, much, much easier said than done.

The Lakers have spoken with Denver about Marcus Camby, but that apparently ended when they were told Kwame Brown wasn't enough.

The Lakers have also spoken with Indiana about Jermaine O'Neal, but they've had six weeks to get something done and it hasn't happened.

I expect talks to heat up going into the June 28 draft and during the free-agent period, which begins July 1.

If the Lakers don't make a trade, their centers for next season will be Brown, Andrew Bynum and, perhaps, Chris Mihm, who might be brought back with a substantial pay cut if he shows his ankle has recovered from reconstructive surgery.

3) Continue to make sure Andrew Bynum develops ... if he isn't traded.

If the Lakers don't make any moves, some of which might involve Bynum, the development of their resident teenager is key.

Keeping in mind that it took Jermaine O'Neal five years and a change of scenery before he blossomed, Bynum will be entering his third year when training camp starts in October in Honolulu.

Then again, Bynum averaged 10.7 points, nine rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots in 15 games in the month of January before tailing off rapidly. Can he parlay his early-season success into something more lasting next season? Might be too early for Lakers fans to hope so, but if Bynum stays, the Lakers would be wise to polish him up a bit this summer.

2) Get a point guard.

Could there be a bigger understatement than saying that the Smush Parker experiment failed?

By most accounts, Jordan Farmar is still another season or two from being an effective player after averaging 6.4 points and 1.6 assists in five games as a starter in the playoffs.

If the Lakers don't acquire a ballhandling guard in a trade, they would probably try to sign one with their midlevel exception of five years and about $30 million. Possibilities include Denver's Steve Blake, Milwaukee's Mo Williams and Earl Boykins, and the Clippers' Jason Hart. A reunion with Chucky Atkins or Gary Payton both free agents will not happen, and Detroit's Chauncey Billups and Sacramento's Mike Bibby will ask for more money than the Lakers can afford if they opt out of their contracts.

In other words, it doesn't look like the Lakers will be acquiring a difference-maker in the free-agent market, although anything is an upgrade over Parker.

1) Solve the Bryant predicament.

I saved the last spot for the Lakers' hardest challenge.

They are hoping Bryant can be coaxed back into believing in them, but the Lakers will have to surround him with enough talent to make him think another first-round playoff exit isn't inevitable.

Not an easy task.

On the surface, however, it looks like Bryant might not have much of a choice. Lakers owner Jerry Buss recently said in a statement that "We will continue to pursue every avenue possible to improve our team with him as the cornerstone."

Jeanie Buss, the team's executive vice president of business operations, was even more vocal in a journal on the team's website.

"While it is clear that I have no input into basketball decisions, I have expressed my opinion to everyone I work with in this organization that Kobe Bryant CANNOT now or EVER be traded from the Lakers," she wrote. "Even thinking about it distresses me. My message is simple he is not going anywhere. How can you trade Kobe when there is no equal to Kobe?"

The Lakers' summer got a lot busier when Bryant publicly demanded a trade. I know one other thing: My summer got a lot busier too.

Sounds like everyone is waiting for that June 28th and July 1st date.
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Old 06-15-2007, 01:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Kobe is the first priority


No the Lakers as a team is the first priority. Kobe is just another supper star in the purple and gold and the team > than Kobe. Everyday I get closer and closer to wanting to see Kobe traded maybe that way all the people that are Kobe fans not Laker fans can go post in his new teams forum and we can get back to focusing on a team of 12 not 1 f-in guy.
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Old 06-15-2007, 02:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Originally Posted by schyza
No the Lakers as a team is the first priority. Kobe is just another supper star in the purple and gold and the team > than Kobe. Everyday I get closer and closer to wanting to see Kobe traded maybe that way all the people that are Kobe fans not Laker fans can go post in his new teams forum and we can get back to focusing on a team of 12 not 1 f-in guy.
Thats what I'm talking about schyza...fans first...
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Old 06-15-2007, 02:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

lakers > kobe
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Old 06-15-2007, 08:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Originally Posted by apeman222
lakers > kobe

yeah, n if we trade him, we become the new hawks... remember the west just got better n I c people sayin that chicago is gonna give us deng, gordon, wallace, lottery pick 4 kobe.... that wouldn't happen cuz that's more than we got 4 shaq n shaq pretty much brings championships.....
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

kobe is the priority cuz he's the cash cow of the Buss family, Lakers will not do anything significant this summer, they'll get another Smush Parker/tierre Brown from NBDL and that's it.
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Old 06-16-2007, 12:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Originally Posted by AceVenturaPetDet
kobe is the priority cuz he's the cash cow of the Buss family, Lakers will not do anything significant this summer, they'll get another Smush Parker/tierre Brown from NBDL and that's it.

I agree with whats in bold... the rest of it, i dont agree with.

I think the Lakers FO is trying to do something. Whether they have the capacity to do a big move remains to be seen. Has this new post-West done any big deal that the Lakers benefitted from?



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Old 06-16-2007, 12:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Originally Posted by SoCalMike
I agree with whats in bold... the rest of it, i dont agree with.

I think the Lakers FO is trying to do something. Whether they have the capacity to do a big move remains to be seen. Has this new post-West done any big deal that the Lakers benefitted from?




malone and payton got us back to the finals....we benefited from that.....and the "post-west" era was forced to trade shaq.....which after we did, they told the fans it would be a few years before they bounced back.....
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Old 06-16-2007, 12:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: Kobe is the first priority

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Originally Posted by apeman222
malone and payton got us back to the finals....we benefited from that.....and the "post-west" era was forced to trade shaq.....which after we did, they told the fans it would be a few years before they bounced back.....

Getting Malone and Payton was not something Kupchak or the Lakers FO did. Shaq had more to do with that from everything I understood. Those two players came to the Lakers, not the other way around (with Shaq's influence).


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