TRADE KOBE?   
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So Kobe Bryant wants to be traded? Can’t say I am surprised, nor can I say I blame him. The Los Angeles Lakers have been a mess for about four years now. But Kobe isn’t completely right about the team not trying to get better, the Lakers have attempted to bring in pieces to put around Bryant it’s just that none of them worked.

Kobe does have a bad reputation in the NBA right now, from his constant fighting with Shaquille O’Neal in the early part of the decade and his perceived eventual forcing of O’Neal to be traded to Miami, to his rape case in Colorado and now this. Kobe has worn a lot of haters and supporters to the point were they just do not care anymore.

Kobe has been a bad apple since before he entered the NBA. In 1996 he publically stated that he didn’t want to play for certain teams, which forced the Charlotte Hornets, the team who drafted him, to trade him to the Lakers in exchange for center Vlade Divacs.

Kobe’s troubles recently have been with the leagues front office and his elbows. Bryant was suspended twice this season for elbowing players, once for his elbow to the head of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and once for an elbow to Minnesota’s Marko Jaric. This has lead many fans to call Bryant a dirty player, which is not true. Bryant has taken cheap shots yes, but in this age of watered down defense any player who plays hard traditional defense is considered dirty. For all his negatives Kobe is a decent hard-working defender, but he does slack off a lot because he needs to focus or scoring.

His constant focusing on scoring has lead to another charge, which he is a ball hog. Why it is true that Bryant is a ball hog, his team mates sometimes leave him with no choice. This brings me to my point that the Lakers have surrounded him with talent, but the pieces don’t work. The Lakers traded Shaq for Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, and Caron Butler, Grant and Butler lasted one season with the Lakers and Grant was injured most the season. Butler was traded after one year to the Wizards for Kwame Brown. Odom has been an off and on player his entire career and nothing has changed since he’s been a Laker, but Laker fans from LA would have to know this was the case since he was a Clipper for years and did the same thing. The Lakers have also had an unfortunate run with injuries, they lost Chris Mihm for the season this year and lost Vladimir Radmanovic at the all-star break because he was injured skiing. So who is Kobe to pass it to? His team mates are injured regularly.

When the Lakers were healthy at the beginning of the year, they found themselves as the 5th best team in the west. But the injuries began to pile up and the Lakers took a free fall and nearly missed the playoffs.

Now the Kobe has demanded a trade there will be a lot of speculation as to where he will go, and I’m going to buy into the speculation and suggest a few players where he could end up. I doubt he’d goto Miami with the rift between him and Shaq so the Heat are out of contention. I also don’t see the Spurs being very interested in him since they are title contenders with the pieces they already have. Dallas is a real possibility, the Mavericks could send Josh Howard and other players for Kobe. Utah and Denver are two more remote possibilities, Utah could package Kirilenko, Fisher and draft picks for him, and Denver could offer some package involving Kenyon Martin and JR Smith. But in all likelihood I don’t see the Lakers trading Kobe to a Western team, they’d likely ship him East. Of the Eastern Contenders I’d rule out Cleveland because they have Lebron James, Rule out the Pistons as well since they’d be unlikely to give up Hamilton, Price, and Billups to acquire Kobe. That leaves the Bulls as the only real contenders who’d be able to trade for Kobe. The Bulls would likely send some combination of Ben Gordon, Loul Deng, Kirk Heinrich, and Andres Nicioni and possibly their lottery pick this year for Bryant. Other possibilities to think about are Boston and Philadelphia, the Celtics have the young pieces which the Lakers could fit around Bynum to rebuild. Philadelphia is where Kobe grew up, and the Sixers should have some cap room after the Allen Iverson trade.

All this speculating is fun, but in all honesty I do not foresee Kobe Bryant being traded in the off-season. Kobe like the media to much to leave LA, and this is likely a ploy to force the Lakers hand in acquiring new talent. There is however one more option which solves one of the points I brought up for Kobe not being traded, and thats to trade him to the cross town rival Clippers. Could you image the LA Clippers with Kobe Bryant and Elton Brand? Not a pleasant thought if you’re a Western fringe team is it?