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Kobe Will Holdout Next February

May 30th. June 17th. August 20th. Three different days, but the same message. “Trade me.” As if that weren’t enough to convince all the Laker faithful that the end of the Kobe Bryant era is near, let me explain what’s going to happen if the Lakers DON’T trade Kobe soon:

Kobe will be sitting out the season by March 1, 2008.

Here’s why:

1. The Lakers will lose one of their starting five to injury before the All-Star break.

Between Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, and the Bynum/Brown/Mihm rotation at center, it’s not if a Laker’s starter gets hurt, but when. Don’t get me wrong — every team in the league will probably lose a starter to injury next season. The problem with it happening to the Lakers is that it will cripple their offense. Unless one of their role players can step up and fill in for the injured player, the offense will turn into the “Kobe show.” Not that the Kobe show doesn’t win games — because it does — but Bryant is tired of carrying this team. He’s been doing it for years now, and he doesn’t get any help (or respect). When the Lakers lose a starter to injury and the bench can’t help, Kobe will throw in the towel.

2. Phil Jackson’s leverage over Kobe is just about gone.

Kobe Bryant is no fool — he knows that any Phil Jackson coached team has a shot at a ring. In fact, it’s my opinion that the ONLY reason Kobe hasn’t forced a trade is that he knows Phil can take a group of average players and make them a force. But Kobe also knows that Phil Jackson hasn’t agreed to an extension. This is Jackson’s last contract year and he’s said that he’s going to wait to decide about extending until the last minute. If Phil Jackson hasn’t made it clear by mid-season that he’s going to be sticking around, Kobe’s only reason to stay a Laker is gone.

3. Kobe’s not worried about losing money.

A lot of people claim that the reason Kobe hasn’t been more vocal about being traded is that he’s trying to protect various endorsement deals. Bullshit. Kobe’s not worried about cash, and for good reason. The money he loses demanding a trade he’ll more than earn back when he leads his new team to a championship. Besides, do you think a guy worth $200 million is really worried about a few million in endorsements?

4. The Lakers have reached the point of diminishing returns with Kobe.

When Allen Iverson left Philly, a lot of people talked about the fact that A.I. and the 76ers had been together for too long. To my way of thinking, that means that sometimes it’s good for organizations to make a change. Kobe is a hell of a basketball player, but he’s also a tremendous weight on the team. His recent emotional trade demands, his constant back stabs of his teammates, and his almost insufferable competitive edge will make working with Kobe very difficult in the upcoming season. At what point do the Lakers realize that Kobe’s presence is actually hurting them more than it’s helping them? When Philly finally traded A.I., they did it with the knowledge that they were better off without him. Expect the Lakers to come to this conclusion too.

Here’s how the Kobe holdout will go down. The Lakers will get off to a decent start, but struggle in the month of February when 12 of their 15 games are on the road. Of course, by this time, Odom, Walton, Brown, Mihm, or Bynum will have missed at least a dozen games. The Lakers will slip below 50%. Phil Jackson, in a slip of the tongue, will mention he’s considering retirement. At this point, Kobe Bryant will realize he has no chance of winning a championship in 2008 as long as he’s a Laker. Considering how vocal Kobe was this summer, it’s hard to imagine that he won’t go off the deep-end and sit out the season.

The Lakers should trade Kobe now and rebuild. With Bynum, Odom, Walton, a couple of expiring contracts, and some draft picks, the Lakers can again become a force in the Western Conference. Not this year mind you, but soon. But if the Lakers hold on to Kobe and try to somehow salvage this relationship, they stand a very good chance of creating a no-win situation where Kobe is traded for half of his value.

Don’t believe it? Ask all the Garnett fans in Minnesota, all the Iverson fans in Philly, and all the Carter fans in Toronto what they think.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By JL on Aug 17, 2010 | Reply

    Well, I obviously didn’t consider the idea that LA could trade their way to the finals by giving up Kwame Brown and some gym socks for Pau Gasol.

    If LA hadn’t worked out a trade, then Kobe might not be a Laker…but they did. SO, I was wrong. Again.

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