Perhaps, far worse that simply running the best center and shooting guard on the planet out of town will be that there is also a strong possibility that Jim Buss will have nothing of value to show for such actions. Just as the Lakers lost Dwight Howard while receiving nothing in the summer of 2013 (rather than trading him at last year’s deadline for a king’s ransom like as I suggested), they may infuriate Kobe to the point of playing elsewhere at all costs next summer, while at the same time missing out on both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. As I said, fans protesting en masse in front of the Staples Center!
All of the above said, the 2014-15 Lakers literally could have Steve Nash as their captain and face of their storied franchise with Coach Mike D’Antoni running his fit-for-the-regular-season “7 seconds or less” system, with the rest of the roster made up of solid yet unspectacular players such as Jerryd Bayless, Shawn Marion, Rashard Lewis and Spencer Hawes, along with returning Lakers who could be re-signed such as Chris Kaman, Steve Blake, Jodi Meeks and Ryan Kelly. The Lakers could also use their cap space to sign a former star such as Danny Granger and an all-potential, little-production volume scorer like Michael Beasley if the Suns fail to exercise his team option as I expect them do. Couple such signings with the addition of the players the Lakers draft next year and your 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers could literally look as follows:
PG: Steve Nash / Steve Blake / 1st Round Pick
SG: Jerryd Bayless / Jodie Meeks
SF: Danny Granger / Michael Beasley
PF: Shawn Marion / Ryan Kelly / Rashard Lewis
C: Spencer Hawes / Chris Kaman / 2nd Round Pick
Coach: Mike D’Antoni
The above roster could play “7 seconds or less” basketball till their hearts content and possibly score 105 plus points per game. The bad news? The above roster could also give up 125 points per game!
As for Kobe Bean Bryant and which team the Black Mamba would sign with if not the Lakers, as I see it there would be three realistic options that would stand out above all the rest, and they are the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers … and … the Philadelphia 76ers … yes I’m serious.
WHY the LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:
There would be no better team for the greatest player in Lakers history to go to, if he wants to sting his former team, than the Los Angeles Clippers.
Signing with the Clippers would allow the Staples Center to remain “Kobe’s house,” and the amount of pain and angst he would cause Jim Buss and the Lakers brass by staying in the same city and playing in the same building would be enormous. I have no real doubt that when the Lakers and Clippers played each other in Staples, that around 90 percent of the jerseys in the audience would be Kobe Bryant Clippers jerseys and that there would be a “Fire Jim Buss” or “Jim Buss sucks” chant heard around the arena and coming from the mouths of the Lakers faithful. What a spectacle that would be.
When one considers that the Clippers would also quite possibly be the odds-on-favorite to win the NBA title with Bryant on their roster, staying in Los Angeles and playing with the Clippers makes a great deal of sense for Kobe Bean Bryant.
WHY NOT the LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:
Money, period. If Kobe wants to cause his former team the most pain possible, he would also have to cause himself the most financial pain possible, as the Clippers are projected to be over the cap next season and would therefore only be able to offer Bryant a fraction of his former salary.
WHY the CHICAGO BULLS:
Kobe already nearly forced his way to the Chicago Bulls via trade in days gone by and has made it clear that he would have no problem playing for the team that Jordan built.
Kobe has also always been extremely impressed and complimentary of Bulls superstar Derrick Rose, going so far as to say that other than himself, only Derrick Rose and Chris Paul (of the aforementioned Clippers of course) had the same insane level of competitive fire as he did. Kobe, accepting the challenge of trying to one-up Michael Jordan, in Jordan’s city, while wearing a jersey with a number one digit higher than Jordan’s old #23 just seems fitting.
WHY NOT the CHICAGO BULLS:
Honestly, there is no obvious reason why Kobe would not sign with the Bulls which make them a more realistic choice than the Clippers and perhaps even the 76’ers.
If the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer before the start of the 2014-15 season as I expect they will, do not re-sign Luol Deng and do not pick up the team option on little used PG Marquis Teague, they could realistically offer Kobe right around $15 million per season and the ability to play with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, which would give the Bulls perhaps the best starting five in the league.
Again, there really is no good reason why Kobe Bryant would not sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Next Page: Could Kobe return to his hometown team?