Dream Scenario: Kobe and K.G. Together
DREAMLAND -- It was only recently in the ebb and flow of career-long frustration that Kevin Garnett dropped those two little words heard 2,000 miles to the west in Los Angeles.
The words were opt out.
If you listened carefully, you could almost hear Kobe Bryant's two-word response: I'm in!
See, Kobe's just 28 on the calendar, but he is 11 years into an NBA career that would take a toll on any superhero. And even if our sports entertainers are usually the last to confront their own athletic mortality, Kobe Bryant is no dummy. He knows the window is beginning to close on his own championship opportunities as frontman and franchise centerpiece for the Lakers.
So when 30-year-old Kevin Garnett, K.G. himself, says it might be time to stop Dancing With Wolves, it behooves Kobe to make sure his generally conservative front office is also listening. You'd be conservative, too, if the last big trade you made got you Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant's bloated contract from Miami, a pittance for Shaquille O'Neal. The Steal of the Century for the Heat.
Now Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak went to North Carolina, and while I'm not sure about the quality of the Tar Heel math department, nor did I understand any math beyond 8th grade algebra myself, I am able to contribute the following simple equation:
Lamar Odom's $14 million + Vladimir Radmanovic's $6 million = K.G.'s $20 million.
There, salary cap math made simple!
And all this time, you thought the Lakers had gone soft, opting not to void the contract of Half-Pipe Vlade after he messed up his shoulder in that snowboard mishap.
Soft, no. Shrewd, yes.
If the Lakers have any chance of matching salaries in a summer trade for K.G. with the T-Wolves, that $6 mil they'll have working for Slalom Vladdy could come in awfully handy. Or $6 million plus a $36 lift ticket. Void his contract, which they could have chosen to do and been within their rights, and that $6 million chess piece goes away, reducing their already limited options in offering players who can walk and chew gum at the same time...in exchange for Garnett.
So as that window on Kobe's prime years slowly and agonizingly closes, it's time to give Bryant a playmate he can win with. There are none out there with K.G.'s will or talent. Kobe and K.G. together is a Laker fan's Dream Scenario. For Kobe right now on the Lakers of Kwame and Smush is like Paderewski without a piano, Pavarotti without an orchestra, Gen. Custer without troop support. And we all know how that last one turned out.
Ted Green is Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News and a former L.A. Times sportswriter.