Kobe Bryant may have a beef. Or two.
He’s saying all the right things now about moving on after his L.A. Lakers not only did not successfully trade for Chris Paul but voluntarily sent Lamar Odom to the defending NBA champion/same conference-residing Dallas Mavericks…because Odom’s departure was part of the Lakers’ public attempt to secure Paul’s services.
Once Commissioner David Stern and/or a number of owners in the NBA (the collective owner of the New Orleans Hornets) determined the three-team, six-player trade was not in the best interest of ____________________(fill in your own blank here)…Paul remained a Hornet.
After Odom got his wish granted to leave town…and join the Lakers’ main competition to get to the Finals, Kobe commented predictably, “I don’t like it. You’re talking about the Sixth Man of the Year last year. He played lights out.”
He had company in that “not liking it” analysis. Most analysts didn’t like the fact the Lakers got only an $8.9 million trade exception and a protected first-round pick in return for a guy who has played 82 games in each of the last two seasons…averaging 14 points and almost 9 boards a season ago.
Kobe is admittedly more concerned with the immediate future than the long-term. He’s got a lot of mileage on those wheels of his and was sure his team would do what it took to strengthen itself to dislodge the Mavericks from the Western Conference title in 2012…not strengthen them.
Then, a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the Forum…um, the Staples Center. The second-class team that shares those first-class facilities with the Lakers was the team that eventually wound up with Chris Paul.
CP3 is an employee of the L.A. Clippers now.
The talk remains the Lakers are ultimately angling for the services of Dwight Howard, yet the Orlando Magic (his employer as of this writing) seem to be playing hardball for the best-possible deal and seemingly have no issue keeping him “in play” while letting him play for them…for now.
But handing Odom to Dallas not only makes no sense at the upper level of “what-ifs”…it makes no sense on any level. Other teams apparently never got a call who could have offered larger salary exceptions. It happened so fast it was likely few if any other teams even GOT a call.
As strange as the Odom situation is, the rejection of the Lakers’ effort to get Paul was even more bizarre. Obviously, no league has any business operating one of its franchises. If no one can find an owner for a professional sports franchise in this day and age, it is time to back up the moving vans and load ‘em up. New Orleans’ market didn’t pan out the first time the league put a team there and wasn’t doing much better in Round 2. Maybe Stern likes to party there but that doesn’t mean they need to have an NBA franchise in return.
The nonsense regarding the NBA owning the Hornets…and the rejection of the initial trade for Paul…has been well-chronicled. Bryant’s take is one I found refreshing (courtesy ESPN.com)…
“I think other owners did not want the Lakers to make significant improvements again. We always contended as players that the lockout was really more so about the owners fighting amongst themselves, which is what you just saw. You got Chris Paul coming here and the other owners weren’t with that, because you don’t want another great player coming to L.A., and all of a sudden Los Angeles has another player that can carry them on well after I retire. So, it’s more about the owners bickering amongst themselves.”
While Kobe continues to put a brave face on the current team as structured, he did let everyone know he expects the Lakers to still be aggressive and make progress towards acquiring talent and if that is the case, “I’ll stand out of their way and let them do what they do.”
The implication is if they don’t…maybe he might GET “in their way”…much like Commissioner Stern and/or whoever did when the Lakers constructed what appeared to many to be a perfectly good deal for Paul? The rejection of that trade was a monumental embarrassment to the NBA considering they were coming off a lockout orchestrated so long ago you could honestly ask if the Clippers were in San Diego…or Buffalo…when the locks were first fashioned.
Feel free to openly wonder how sad Kobe would have been for Lamar’s departure if the Lakers deal did in fact go through for Chris Paul. Feel free to openly wonder why the Lakers let Odom go for next to nothing…to the worst-possible team.
Then again…with the tandem of Paul and Blake Griffin now just down the hall from them, Dallas may not be their biggest nuisance.
Their biggest challenge might be “Battle: Los Angeles.”