Since the beginning of the new NBA season, the majority of the talk in the league has focused on the possibility of Kobe Bryant being traded. Where is Kobe going? Who is trading for Kobe? What players will be traded for Kobe?
From the start of discussions, the frontrunners for Bryant's services have been the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks. Last week however, both teams distanced themselves from the rumors. For all intents and purposes, this is for the best. Neither team has what Kobe needs to be successful.
Throughout his career, Kobe Bryant has only won when paired with a traditional dominant center. While on the Laker championship teams several years ago, Bryant was the "sidekick" to one of the greatest centers of all-time, Shaquille O'Neal. Current Laker center Andrew Bynum is not yet to level of Shaquille O'Neal and it is doubtful he will ever be. Therefore, given Bryant's past style and the dearth of powerful centers currently in the NBA, there are few places where Kobe Bryant can be traded and clearly improve that team's and Bryant's chances for a title. Thanks to the ESPN Trade Machine, I have created a few trade scenarios that would put Kobe Bryant on the path for a championship once again.
1) Kobe Bryant to the Houston Rockets for Tracy McGrady.
McGrady has had several years of playing alongside Yao Ming to fulfill the Rockets' championship potential. Unfortunately, the Rockets and McGrady have yet to win a round of playoff basketball. Adding Kobe to the Rockets would replace McGrady with a more dominating "alpha" player who knows how to play with a scoring center. Additionally, given that Yao's personality is less brazen that Shaq's, Kobe should easily get along with his new co-star.
2) Kobe Bryant to the Orlando Magic as part of a four-way trade.
In this epic four-way trade, the Lakers send Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic to the Orlando Magic; the Magic trade Pat Garrity, Tony Battie, and Trevor Ariza to the Sacramento Kings and JJ Redick and Carlos Arroyo to the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Kings trade Sharef Abdur-Rahim to the Cavs and Brad Miller to the Lakers; and the Cavs trade Larry Hughes to the Lakers.
Confusing? Yes, very. However, this trade pairs Bryant with emerging Magic superstar Dwight Howard. Howard has only scratched the surface on how good he can be, and together with Bryant and the recently acquired Rashard Lewis, the Magic would be among the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
3) Kobe Bryant and Kwame Brown to the Portland Trailblazers for LaMarcus Aldrige, Brandon Roy, Darius Miles, Raef Lafrentz, and cash.
Although this is a lot to give up for the Blazers, it does pair Kobe with a potential dominating big man in Greg Oden. This trade also removes the Blazers' albatross-like contracts of Lafrentz and Miles. For the Lakers, they get Roy and Aldridge and, along with Andrew Bynum, the chance at a new younger nucleus.
4) Kobe Bryant and Ronny Turiaf to the Miami Heat for Dwyane Wade, Jason Williams, and Dorell Wright.
This trade reunites Bryant with former colleague Shaquille O'Neal. With their soap opera-like drama behind them, I think Shaq, given his age, would finally accept playing "sidekick" to Kobe's dominance. In return, this trade gives the Lakers a star on which to build upon in Wade as well as Jason Williams's expiring contract.
Each of these trades reunite Kobe Bryant with one of the few remaining talented centers in the NBA and provides Kobe with a role he is familiar with. A role that will lead him and his future team to championship glory.