Even though Kobe was booed by the Staples Center crowd on opening night, he was fortunate to never catch flak for the Garnett situation. That’s probably because the front office finally got the chance to improve the roster. Over the next seven months, the Lakers had removed Smush Parker, Luke Walton, and Kwame Brown from the previous season’s starting lineup and replaced them with Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, and of course, Pau Gasol. Even more impressive was that they did it without having to give up Odom or Bynum.
This was the same front office that Kobe now says he has “not one lick” of patience for. In signing the extension in November, he pretty much sacrificed any leverage he could have had. Had he declined the extension and threatened to explore signing with the Bulls or teaming up with Phil in New York, the team would have been on the clock to appease him or risk losing him. Now the only thing he can threaten them with is retiring and giving up all that money.
He can ask for a trade again but not a lot of teams have either the ability or the willingness to trade for a 35-year-old coming off multiple knee injuries and a torn Achilles, while also making $48.5 million over the next two years. That ship has sailed.
The first thing that popped into my head upon hearing Kobe’s comments last week was if he was having any regrets about signing the extension and if so, what were they? Was it the amount? Probably not. Was it the timing of it? Considering the Lakers were willing to commit that much money before he’d even played a single game after suffering an Achilles tear, I seriously doubt that too. Was it the team? Hypothetically speaking, if the Bulls were to strike out with their anticipated $15 million offer to Carmelo this summer, would Kobe still sign the extension or would he prefer to spend his next two seasons on a legitimate contender in a much weaker conference?
I too would have much rather preferred to see the Lakers extend Kobe in the neighborhood of $15 million but I don’t take as much issue with the contract as I do with a collective bargaining agreement that doesn’t allow a team to build a championship roster while simultaneously compensating it’s most important asset at fair market value.
The Lakers chose business over basketball, and as I’ve already written about extensively, they didn’t really have the choice, nor are they complaining about it. Kobe also chose business over basketball, but at least he had the choice. He’s not the one with the corporate partners and the billion dollar TV rights deal to live up to. But he wants to have his cake and eat it too and that just isn’t fair. If he still wants to defend his extension than he forfeits the right to complain about the front office. At least before giving them the chance to bail him out again.
Kobe Bryant OUT For Remainder Of Season, Lakers Press Conference