Is Kobe Bulls bound?
Know what I make of this Kobe Bryant-to-the-Bulls talk? I believe it’s a cry for help from a confused, frustrated superstar who is tired of one-and-dones in the playoffs, tired of the talk that he hasn’t won squat without Shaquille O’Neal, tired that he has to carry the Kwame Browns and Smush Parkers and whomever else masquerades as the Los Angeles Lakers these days.
I also believe Kobe has way too much time to burn these days.
The guy needs a hobby. Backgammon. Baseball cards. Bunco. Horses. Poker. Splatter painting.
But blogging? Please, somebody put a golf club in his hands.
“When you love something as much as I love the Lakers, it’s hard to even imagine thinking about being elsewhere,” Kobe wrote on his Web site kb24.com the other day. “But, the ONE THING I will never sacrifice when it comes to basketball is WINNING. The more I thought about the future, the more I became convinced that the Lakers and me just have two different visions for the future.”
Me, I think Kobe will stay put for no other reason than the Lakers realize they would be 12-point underdogs against the Clippers without him. Expect them to make at least one blockbuster move this summer.
But what if Kobe is serious about this? What if he continues to kick and scream this summer?
Kobe would have to waive a no-trade clause in his contract before he could be moved, which he apparently would agree to do if the Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks or Phoenix Suns are the destination. Forget the Mavericks and the Suns — they’re in the same conference as the Lakers — and the Knicks have no players of any great value.
That leaves you know who.
“Definitely, I look forward to games here,” Kobe perked up a while back when I asked him about The House that Jordan Built, also known as the United Center. “Who wouldn’t? This is where Michael played.”
If I’m Bulls general manager John Paxson, I sell the idea to board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as soon as possible, if not earlier.
After I scream, “Thank you, Jesus!” of course.
I mean, for a franchise to have Jordan fall in its lap is one thing. But to think the same franchise could stumble across Mike and Kobe only 10 years apart is downright silly.
Oh, sure, the Pax man has built a nice, little team here. Better yet, core members Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich figure to get better before they get worse.
Problem is, I have a better chance with Halle Berry than the Bulls do to win the league championship without a franchise player on their roster. It’s rule No. 1 in the NBA marketing handbook, I believe.
Whether you like Kobe or not — and there seems to be no middle ground with him — it’s hard to deny that he is the greatest talent in the game today. Maybe Kobe wouldn’t lead the Bulls to a seventh championship banner, but given the alternative, I like their chances a lot more with him.
Look at it this way: If the Cavaliers can advance to the NBA Finals with boy wonder LeBron James and a bunch of guys named Sasha, there’s no reason to believe Kobe wouldn’t do at least as much with Viktor Khryapa here.
The question is, how badly does Bulls management want another superstar talent? And what would it take to get one?
The truth is, it makes no cents for the franchise to take on $88.6 million in salary, which is what Kobe has left on his seven-year contract. The last 49 games at the United Center were sellouts. The team has been a cash cow for several years, and even as is, it figures to stay that way for a while.
Yet the higher-ups owe it to the fans to take their best shot here. I mean, it’s not like Kobe would drive fans away or anything.
The Lakers would probably want two All-Star-caliber starters, another player with a favorable contract and a first-round draft pick in return for Kobe, 28, who is smack dab in the prime of his career. Fine. Give them a first-rounder, Deng and either Gordon or Hinrich, who fits the Lakers need for a quality point guard. Then add guard Chris Duhon and whoever else it takes to balance the salary load.
The Lakers could hold out for a marquee name elsewhere — Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas and Boston Celtics swingman Paul Pierce have been mentioned — but the Bulls still could land Kobe in a three-way deal. Remember, King James can become a free agent after the 2008-09 season.
Of course, if and when Kobe tells how much he loves to be a Laker on kb24.com, we’ll forget that we ever had this discussion.
More Bulls coverage can be found online at www.dailysouthtown.com/sports. Paul Ladewski can be reached at email@example.com.