Well, Kobe trade rumors are flying around again today, with prognosticators saying he could most likely end up with the Bulls. While this would no doubt be a boon to the commercial profitability of the Bulls and to new Kobe jersey sales, the Bulls shouldn’t do it.
We all know what the Bulls would have to give up to get him - Ben Gordon and Luol Deng. While Gordon has been quietly - and sometimes not-so-quietly - considered very tradable (he’s undersized and overhyped), Luol Deng, by contrast, is the future of the Bulls – even more so than Kobe could ever be, even more so than Elton Brand ever might have been.
Am I saying that Deng's upside is better than Kobe’s? Within the context of this team, you bet. This is an unselfish group that plays more like the Spurs than the Cavs, and to introduce a far-more-selfish-than-LeBron-has-ever-been player like Kobe will upset the apple cart. Not to mention that we all just saw how Spurs-style team ball easily trumped Cavs-style LeBron ball in the Finals.
Deng is unflappable, unselfish and a future all-star. He was fantastic against the Heat in the playoffs and showed plenty of spirit against the Pistons. This Bulls team, as it stands, is very close to being the best in the East. With another year of experience, they are poised to be better than the Pistons and the Cavaliers. Note to John Paxson: if you decide to dramatically alter this current chemistry, you had better be right. The Bulls are already an exciting, dynamic, crowd-drawing, playoff-calibre team. If you mess with that just to get a superstar name on the roster, you had better be right that it will produce a winner.Possible exception:
If you can manage to get Kobe while keeping Deng – perhaps with a Ben Gordon / Ben Wallace or Tyrus Thomas / draft picks trade – then consider it. But only consider it. Getting Kobe is not
a no-brainer. Even if you keep the critical pieces of the team in tact, and
retain enough talent and positive attitudes to maybe
offset Kobe's monster ego, introducing a player-slash-personality like Kobe is a complete team makeover. This is a guy who Phil Jackson and Shaq had a tough time handling; you seriously expect Scott Skiles
to keep him in line? Granted, Skiles is a bulldog, and I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley without a kickass set of Chinese throwing stars, but he doesn't have Kobe-cred. Kobe would, by default, be more powerful than the coach, and that is a disaster waiting to happen. It's already a disaster for the Lakers, but they wouldn't admit it for a second. Don't be surprised if they take just a little bit less than you might expect to get rid of the cancer that is Kobe Bryant.
All in all, keeping the status quo would be wise for the Bulls. They are on the verge of turning a very big corner as a team, and the best move by John Paxson would be no move at all. Unless, of course, he LIKES cancer.
"Retired number? RETIRED NUMBER?Not for me, baby. I'm Kobe Bryant, dammit."
Labels: Chicago Bulls, john paxson, Kobe Bryant, luol deng