Or does he? If so, how can the Mavs get him? My answer is this: by any means necessary, short of trading Dirk Nowitzki.
Jean-Jacques Taylor disagrees with me, instead arguing that the Mavericks should go all out for Bryant and worry about filling the power forward slot later. Nice try, but why would the Mavericks dump Dirk for Bryant, creating a glut of guards and basically leaving themselves with no scoring bigs? JJT is missing the big picture entirely; namely, that the Mavericks have a unique opportunity to pair the best player in the NBA with Dirk Nowitzki, a top-10 player in his own right. Try this on for size instead: Jordan-Pippen…Duncan-Robinson…Shaq-Kobe…Kobe-Dirk, anyone?
Bill Simmons floated seven possible scenarios in a column on ESPN.com this afternoon, ranking the Mavericks as the fourth-most-likely destination for Kobe behind Phoenix, Chicago and Atlanta.
First of all, like Simmons, I think there’s no way Kobe agrees to play in Atlanta. He’s upset with Lakers management? Wait until he gets to Atlanta…the team that almost handed Phoenix a lottery pick this year in exchange for Joe Johnson. Scratch the Hawks from the list…I’m having trouble understanding how Simmons put this deal ahead of a potential deal with the Mavs on the likeliness scale.
In the next scenario, Simmons envisions Chicago sending Deng, Gordon, Victor Khryapa and the No. 9 pick to the Lakers for the Kobester. Nice, but hardly spectacular…looks a lot like the Shaq trade. Do the Lakers want to walk down that road again?
Simmons proposes Marion, Barbosa, Marcus Banks and the Hawks’ 2008 1st round pick for Bryant and Radmanovic. Undoubtedly, a great deal, but Simmons points out that it raises some serious alpha dog problems between Bryant and Stoudemire, which he proposes to solve by acting on his earlier suggestion of trading Stoudemire to Minnesota for Garnett. I don’t believe it’s humanly possible for one team to trade for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett in one offseason. One or the other, yes…but after the first domino falls, wouldn’t Kevin McHale or Mitch Kupchak have the good sense to realize that they would be handing the West to Phoenix for the next five years and nix the second deal?
Finally, Simmons on the Mavs…
Dallas trades Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse (sign-and-trade starting at $7.3 million per) for Kobe.
Comments: I’m intrigued by this one because (A) the Lakers would be competitive with a Howard-Terry-Odom-Bynum nucleus; (B) Kobe would solve all of Nowitzki’s toughness/crunch-time problems; and (C) Dallas could probably win a title with Kobe, Nowitzki, the Diop/Dampier combo, Devin Harris and seven guys they found on the street. But would the Lakers ever trade Kobe to a Western contender? And would Cuban ever admit that Dirk was irrevocably damaged by the 2006 Finals and the Warriors-Mavs series, to the degree that he needed to acquire another crunch-time guy? If the Mavs didn’t have the testicular fortitude to pull off a Shaq trade three years ago, they won’t have the gulliones to go after Kobe.
The Sports Guy is on the right track here by centering the deal around Josh Howard. But instead of Terry and Stack, I’d sweeten the pot with Devin Harris, then add pieces until the salaries fit. Incidentally, Erick Dampier’s contract fits in quite nicely, according to the ESPN Trade Machine. Here’s my reasoning…why would the Lakers go for a Terry/Stack/Howard swap? Terry is coming off the first year of what is increasingly looking like a bad contract. Stack is an aging vet who is gutsy, but may not have much left in the tank. If Simmons is willing to suppose that Phoenix would give up both Marion and Barbosa, I can’t imagine why he didn’t include Devin Harris in his Dallas scenario. An offer of a young point guard (which the Lakers desperately need), a veteran center (who could be paired with Bynum) and an All-Star who could play Kobe’s position would seem pretty competitive. Howard is locked up for four years relatively cheaply, and Harris is still on his rookie contract. The Lakers would have to swallow four more years of Dampier’s contract, but that seems more likely to me than them spending in excess of $15 million per year to pay for a platoon of Stackhouse and Terry at shooting guard.
1: Terry/free-agent signee/draft pick
3: Stackhouse (if he re-signs/Ager/free-agent pickup
The point guard problem would be diminished by Kobe’s ability to drive and create, and if the Mavs could get a free agent or package some picks to move up and take Acie Law IV, Terry could eventually slide into an instant offense 6th man role that would probably suit him quite well. Even if Stackhouse does not re-sign, the Mavs can pick up a guy whose sole job is to play defense…there will already be plenty of scoring on the floor already. Defenses would be faced with a near impossible decision of choosing to focus on Dirk or Kobe, and Dallas would have two of the elite scorers in basketball on the floor at all times. Granted, the Simmons scenario of having Devin Harris quarterbacking the offense looks better than this lineup, but I just can’t see the Lakers going for it.
As for LA:
They’d be solid across the board.
Apparently, Kobe talked to Phil Jackson after Stephen A. and has decided that he is open to remaining with the Lakers after all…but this seems like a volatile situation that certainly won’t resolve itself soon. I know this has probably already happened, but please, Donnie and Mark…make the phone call!