Links: Or, Kobe Not On The Move?

by May 29, 2007

by Lang Whitaker

The other night I posted about a story being reported by ESPN that Kobe was demanding a trade unless Jerry West was brought back in as GM. Then, a day later, Kobe claimed that he never said that.

So what happened there? Did Ric Bucher make it all up? No way. And Ric says he double-checked with Kobe before reporting his comments. (Also, ESPN hasn’t issued a correction of the story.)

What’s really happening? Well, let’s check with Kobe himself.

According to his official site,, Kobe didn’t demand anything

I have NOT asked to be traded, I don’t want to be traded and I have given no ultimatums or demands of being traded.

I love it here in LA, my family loves it here.

I’ve been a Laker fan my whole life. A REAL Laker fan! I’m talkin Silk Wilks days, and know the history of the Lakers going back to George Mikan era. I WANT to retire a Laker and contend for titles.

It is my opinion that Mr Clutch, one of the greatest GMs the game has ever seen would b able to get us to back to that level sooner rather than later.

If he is available, then it makes sense to give him the reigns and let him do what he does BEST. I KNOW I can trust him to build us an elite team.

I’m tired of losing and I’m sure you guys are tired of it as well.

Now is the time to step up and make some things happen. We have all have waited patiently for three years…Let’s GO!

This is pretty interesting, and not only because Kobe misspelled the last name of Jamaal Wilkes. I love that he has a blog he can use to get his side of things out there. In this post he seems rather adamant that he wants to the team to get better now.

There’s a lot of talk about Kobe’s contract and how that’s keeping the team from having more cap space. But what I don’t understand is, Why does Dr. Jerry Buss care about cap space? According to USA Today, he was worth about $380 million two years ago. And from what I understand about money — which, admittedly, ain’t a whole lot — people with a lot of money are generally able to turn it into even more money.

The Lakers are a marquee team with a marquee player. Surely they’ve got some cash to throw around. Forget the cap, just make moves, right? Doing something is better than nothing, isn’t it?

In another post, Kobe also says he doesn’t like hearing a Lakers “insider” say he ran Shaq out of town…

Man, hearing something like that, which is not true, and which comes from the “inside” is totally frustrating. The fact of the matter is that many people don’t know what really went down when I was approaching free agency because I have stayed quiet about it this whole time.

The real facts are that Dr. Buss requested a meeting with me during the 04 season long before I opted out of my contract, and he told me he had already decided to not extend Shaq, as he was concerned about Shaq’s age, fitness and contract demands. Dr. Buss thought it was best for the Lakers to make a trade to get value for Shaq while they could.

Dr. Buss made it clear that his decision was final, his mind was made up and no matter what I decided to do with free agency he was still going to move Shaq.

I’ve heard many people say “the Lakers are letting Kobe take the bullet for the Shaq trade” but I always just let that go. But now when I hear “Lakers insider” it makes me feel so unsupported that a Lakers “insider” is tryin to spin Dr Buss’ decision about Shaq on me.

Laker fans should know that when I was a free agent Dr. Buss called me from his Vacation in Italy on the eve of my decision and promised me that the Lakers would do everything to build a contender NOW. I told him at that time that my fear was the Lakers waiting to save Cap Room to sign a top notch free agent in 3 or 4 years, so that was why I was leaning towards other teams like the Clips and Bulls, both of who had a cast of good young players.

But Dr. Buss promised me he would rebuild right away, and I believed him. That is why I put my trust in the Lakers. As I said yesterday, I am a die hard Laker fan, so I will keep my trust in them to remain here and play for the team I love.

This is all interesting as well, but I guess the point people have made here is that by not standing up for Shaq, by not saying “Well, if Shaq’s gone, I’m gone,” then in a way Kobe kind of did sign off on his departure. Although, to be fair, maybe Kobe did stand up for The Diesel — he never tells us what his response to Dr. Buss was.

The most damning part is when Kobe says he was worried the Lakers were going to wait 3 or 4 years to rebuild. Well, it’s three years later, and guess what? Yeah.

Anyway, there’s a lot of truths and non-truths floating around out there about all of this. At least we know Kobe’s side of things. And from the sound of it, he has no interest in leaving.

So how do the Lakers get better? They’re going to have a hard time getting much for Lamar Odom, because he’s coming off two surgeries and his contract doesn’t expire until 2009. I really like Bynum’s potential, but if they want to win now they’ve got to move him for someone who can help now.

A lot of you people are Laker fans and Kobe fans, so what do you do? How do you make the Lakers better right away?