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Kobe's Beef Persists, Fuels Bulls Rumors

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 20, 2007 1:30PM

2007_06_sports_kobe_bryant.jpgSince we first discussed Kobe Bryant's unhappiness with the L.A. Lakers and the possibility that he could seek a trade to the Bulls, the rumors have persisted as his relationship with the Lakers continues to deteriorate.

This past weekend, Bryant met with Lakers owner Jerry Buss in Spain, after which he posted a comment on his website stating that his time with the Lakers was through: "The more I thought about the future, the more I became convinced that the Lakers and me just have two different visions for the future. ... [T]he ONE THING I will never sacrifice when it comes to basketball is WINNING.'' He removed the comments on Monday, and replaced them with readers comments supporting his trade demands.

Meanwhile, there is also a video being shopped around that supposedly has Kobe implying he wants to play for the Bulls. In the video, shot on a camera phone, fans reportedly exclaim to Bryant, "Please tell us you're staying!" His response was "Get a Bulls uniform fellas."

But do we want him on the Bulls?

The Sun-Times says yes. Carol Slezak thinks the Bulls should risk whatever it takes to get Kobe into a Bulls uni. She does believe the price is dropping with each trade demand so he might not cost them everybody who played more than 20 minutes a game last year.

Sam Smith, over at the Trib, disagrees with Slezak. He notes that Lakers VP of Business Operations Jeannie Buss (also Jerry's daughter and Phil Jackson's girlfriend) is telling teams that, if not offering a player of comparable skill — say LeBron James or Dwyane Wade — they want a team's "two best players — especially if one is a point guard — a young big man ... and a draft pick."

For the Bulls, that'd mean Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and the ninth pick. Way too much to give up for Bryant!

Others speculate that the ideal package would be something along the lines of Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Luol Deng and the ninth pick or Thabo Sefelosha. They want the Sears Tower, too?

Would a package of Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon and the ninth pick in the draft be enough? Wallace would have to be part of any deal before July because of the salary cap issues. Once July rolls around, there would be more flexibility because of sign-and-trades or other contract maneuvering once free agents can sign.

If the Lakers get desperate and would take Ben Gordon, a re-signed P.J. Brown, Chris Duhon and next year's draft pick, then maybe we'll listen. Otherwise, Sam Smith's right that the Bulls should simply wait.

Basically, we don't get rid of Deng, no matter what. He is right on the cusp of stardom and will be key to any future Bulls title hopes. Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefelosha have shown flashes of what we can expect them to be in a couple years. Ben Wallace, Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni fit perfectly into the Bulls team-first mentality. And Ben Gordon's outside shooting will improve as he gains confidence in Ben Wallace's ability to grab the offensive rebounds.

If Detroit and Cleveland are the cream of the Eastern Conference crop, then the Bulls are just about there. Why leverage the future on a deal to land a player who'd end up in basically the same situation with the Bulls that he's currently in with the Lakers? Kobe's already proven he cannot win alone.

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