Trade Kobe Now?

By Marcus Shockley

Kobe Bryant
Flikr/Keith Allison

Most of the NBA teams are terrible at business. Wait, check that, most professional sports teams in all leagues are bad at business. Just as with corporations, sports teams are usually dysfunctional organizations that limp along from year to year barely surviving a plethora of bad decisions.

However, there are some sports teams that know what they are doing, and one of them is the Los Angeles Lakers. Over the years, the Lakers have been patient, drafted well and traded well. They’ve cut older vets loose at the right time and brought in young guys at the right time.

That’s why with the talk of a Carmelo trade to the Lakers, I find it interesting that the Lakers aren’t actually looking to shed someone else.

Kobe Bryant.

Kobe has now played more games in his career than Michael Jordan. Now, it’s true that Kobe entered the league younger than Jordan did, and Kobe does appear to have more in the tank at this point than Jordan did when he’d played this many games. But the reality is, even though Kobe has a lot of scoring left, it’s plain that the end is in sight within a few years.

That’s why now is the time for the Lakers to be looking to trade their superstar, while they can still get a maximum return. This isn’t the first time they would have done it; Shaq still had enough game left to bring a title to Miami before he became the Big Backup, but the Lakers cut him loose for the long term. It may be time for the Lakers to do the same with Kobe.

It won’t be a popular decision, but it would be a blockbuster trade that could set L.A. up for the next ten years. It might even involve multiple teams. I couldn’t tell you what the frenzy would result in or where Kobe would land. All I could say with relative certainty that he wouldn’t end up in Cleveland.

Consider this: four years from now, Kobe might not even be in the league. That’s how fast a player’s career can go from superstar to Allen Iverson. And for Kobe, that time is approaching. Each year…actually, each month…that the Lakers hold on to him, he gets closer to that reality. Sure, he might play another five, six years, but the truth is, that’s not likely. Next year, he’ll be worth less than this year. The year after that? Less.

So before the Lakers make a big trade between Carmelo and some other supporting player, I think they should be looking at a major shakeup.

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