Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal
ESPN.com news services

The story lines that have engulfed the Los Angeles Lakers in the last week hit a crescendo Wednesday when Kobe Bryant said he would welcome a trade.

"I would like to be traded, yeah," Bryant said on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. "Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there's no other alternative, you know?"

Bryant, interviewed by Stephen A. Smith, was asked if there was anything the Lakers could do to change his mind?

"No," Bryan said. "I just want them to do the right thing."

Earlier in the day, Bryant said team owner Jerry Buss masterminded the trade of Shaquille O'Neal -- and Shaq later confirming Kobe's account.

The issues between Bryant and the Lakers have reached a boil, beginning with Bryant voicing his displeasure with the club's direction, his suggestion that Jerry West should return to fix things, West's statement that he has no intention of undermining GM/good friend Mitch Kupchak, and, unrelated but bizarre in its timing, Buss' arrest early Tuesday for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bryant was left "beyond furious" by a report in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times that read, "as a Lakers insider notes, it was Bryant's insistence on getting away from Shaquille O'Neal that got them in this mess."

O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat after the 2003-04 season, and the long-held belief has been that the deteriorating relationship between O'Neal and Bryant was a factor in O'Neal's departure.

In response to the Times' story, Bryant, interviewed by Smith for a Philadelphia Inquirer column, said Buss "called a meeting with me after he spoke with Jim Gray [of ESPN] to talk with him about Shaq's future in the middle of the 2004 season.

"He met with me at the Four Seasons Hotel here [in Los Angeles] across from Fashion Island, which is now the Island Hotel," Bryant told Smith. "I went up to his penthouse suite. [Buss] looks me dead in the face and says: 'Kobe, I am not going to re-sign Shaq. I am not about to pay him $30 million a year or $80 million over three years. No way in hell. I feel like he's getting older. His body is breaking down, and I don't want to pay that money to him when I can get value for him right now rather than wait.

"This is my decision. It's independent of you. My mind is made up. It doesn't matter to me what you do in free agency because I do not want to pay [Shaq], period.' "

"Dr. Buss said that," Bryant told Smith. "And I haven't said anything for years because I've always felt like folks were just looking to create controversy. Now I know. I realize what extent [the Lakers] will go to, to cover themselves."

Reached afterward, O'Neal told Smith that be believed his former teammate beyond reproach.

"I believe Kobe 100 percent," O'Neal said when reached in Los Angeles. "Absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind Kobe is telling the truth. I believe him a thousand percent.

"I would have respected Dr. Buss more as a man if he would have told me that himself, because I know he said it. But he didn't [tell me]. He never said a damn word to me."

Buss was unavailable for comment Tuesday, as was Kupchak. Buss, 74, was booked early Tuesday for investigation of drunken driving and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above.

The Lakers missed the playoffs in the first season after O'Neal was dealt for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and a first-round pick, and have been eliminated in the first round the last two seasons. O'Neal and the Heat won the NBA championship last season.

"Sure, Shaq and I had our issues," Bryant told Smith. "So what! We always did and we won three titles. That doesn't change what was told to me. It doesn't change the fact I never, ever, said to get rid of him."

While Bryant re-signed for $136 million for seven years the day after O'Neal was traded, he has pushed for trades -- he wanted Carlos Boozer, then Jason Kidd, then Ron Artest -- that the Lakers were unable to pull off. Meanwhile, Odom has undergone shoulder surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp in October, Kwame Brown has undergone reconstructive surgery on his left ankle and might not be ready for the start of camp.

And now Bryant, who reportedly has made it clear to the Lakers that he may see fit to terminate his contract in two years, told Smith he wouldn't continue to wait for Buss to build the roster around him.

"Promises made to make this team better have not been kept," Bryant told Smith. "So where does that leave me?"

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Re: Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

He is a great player but what team would want all the drama that he creates.   roll

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Ventre: Only a fool would believe Machiavellian Kobe
By Michael Ventre

If nothing else, you have to give the man credit for having an impeccable game plan. It seems to have gone like this:

Chat up ESPN’s Ric Bucher, drop the trade grenade, then back off right away so as not to be hit with the shrapnel. Then talk to every available media outlet while continuing to ratchet up the tension with talk of your increasing dissatisfaction. Explain that you were misled. Talk about potential trades that were never consummated. Call the front office “a mess.” Fish around for a while for something that will make you appear really irate.

Then, when it happens — in this case, it was being slapped in a Los Angeles Times story by a so-called “Laker insider,” which could have been a ball boy for anyone knows — pretend that you’ve taken as much as one man can take. Then drop the real bomb:

I want to be traded.

It’s a beautifully orchestrated scheme by Kobe Bryant to avoid responsibility for the damage he has caused and the poor judgment he has shown. Whoever his advisers are, they’re earning their money.

After all, we live in an era of spin, and these days you can get anybody to believe anything.

It took only a few days — nice choice by the way, getting the ball rolling on a holiday weekend while the nation honors its fallen soldiers — but the Bryant prosecution team has made its case to a gullible following, culminating in his trade demand Wednesday on an ESPN Radio show in New York.

His feigned outrage, which supposedly put him over the edge, concerns his involvement in the departure of Shaquille O’Neal. Even though Bryant has been blamed repeatedly since 2004 for shoving the Big Scapegoat out the door since then and seems to have let it roll off his back many times before, somehow the mysterious “Laker insider” has really gone too far by suggesting it one more time.

For the benefit of those who either don’t quite grasp the Machiavellian ways of big-time sports figures and their camps, or who are so deluded that they’re quick to swallow anything Bryant feeds them, the topic of Shaq and his exile to Miami needs to be clarified.

No one with a quarter of a brain is suggesting that Bryant sat in a board room at the head of the table puffing on a stogie and barked out, “Either he goes or I go” when he was about to become a free agent and wanted the team cleansed of any traces of his fat nemesis. It was much slicker than that.

Kobe hated Shaq like Yao Ming is tall. It was not a media concoction. Kobe made it clear when he blasted Shaq publicly to Jim Gray. For anyone unsure, type “Kobe Bryant Jim Gray Shaq” into your Google and then read the transcript. It might just refresh your memory as to the depth of Bryant’s antipathy toward O’Neal.

When it came time for Kobe to become a free agent, Jerry Buss wanted him to re-sign desperately. And yes, as Kobe asserts, Buss probably wanted the big lug out and didn’t want to pay him the huge extension. But if anyone thinks that Buss’s insatiable desire to placate Kobe, and Kobe’s well-publicized hatred of Shaq, had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision to shove Shaq out the door, then I have a nice timeshare in Baghdad I’d like to talk to you about.

So Kobe wants everyone to believe that Buss told him he had his mind made up about trading Shaq and Kobe just stood there listening sympathetically and said, “Well, if you think it’s best …” C’mon, people.

Let’s just pretend for a moment that Kobe and Shaq had gotten along well and were friends. Does a professional basketball player who knows the game inside and out and who has years of experience and understands what it takes to win a championship not only agree with Buss’s reasoning but decide to sign a seven-year contract with a team that is ridding itself of the most dominant player in the game?

Does that make any sense at all? Because that’s what Bryant is trying to sell here. He’s trying to say his feelings toward Shaq did not come into play at all and that he had no involvement whatsoever. He supposedly just went along with whatever the team’s plan was, even though he was a free-agent superstar with massive leverage in negotiations. I can’t believe there’s anyone in a free-thinking society who is a big enough sucker to buy that.

Shaq came out recently and said he believed Kobe’s explanation of how it all came down. But what does anyone expect Shaq to say now? That was three years ago. He’s already ripped Kobe, then remained silent, then announced that he has put it all behind him with a memorable Martin Luther King Day truce after being lobbied by people in basketball he respects. Does anyone think he wants to open that can of worms again? Of course he’s going to make nice and take the politically correct path.

For Kobe Bryant to say that he was “beyond furious” about the so-called “Lakers insider” blaming him for kicking Shaq down the stairs is beyond belief.

Also, he now says that he had no idea the Lakers were planning on rebuilding when he re-signed. He’s intimating that he was duped.

Who really believes that? When a team trades a superstar, it almost never gets equal value in return. That’s just a fact. Bryant knew what he was signing on to. Go back and read some of his quotes about how thrilled he was about the exciting new team around him.

Why have the Lakers been so quiet through all this?

It’s because they’re too stunned. That’s what happens sometimes when you’re the victims of a well-coordinated attack by a devious enemy.

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Re: Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

Kobe Bryant backs off trade demand
May 30, 2007
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Believing he had been insulted and misled, Kobe Bryant asked the Los Angles Lakers for a trade Wednesday and insisted nothing could change his mind.

Then something did. He spoke with coach Phil Jackson and backed off his request.

"I don't want to go anywhere, this is my team," Bryant told KLAC radio. "I love it here. I called Phil, man, he and I talked, it was an emotional conversation, but he just said, "You know what, Kobe? Let us try to figure this thing out.'

"Phil is a guy I lean on a lot."

Some three hours earlier, in an interview with ESPN radio, Bryant said: "I would like to be traded, yeah. Tough as it is to come to that conclusion, there's no other alternative. It's rough, man, but I don't see how you can rebuild that trust. I just don't know how you can move forward in that type of situation."

Bryant also told KLAC, the Lakers' flagship station, that he hadn't heard from owner Jerry Buss, indicating a conversation could go a long way toward resolving the matter.

Buss issued a statement after Bryant's request, saying: "We are aware of the media reports. However, Kobe has not told us directly that he wants to be traded. We have made it very clear that we are building our team around Kobe and that we intend for him to be a Laker his entire career. We will speak directly to Kobe and until we do that, we will not comment publicly about this."

Bryant told KLAC that his agent had contacted general manager Mitch Kupchak early Wednesday.

Bryant, who helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA championships, has four years left on the seven-year, $136.4 million contract he signed July 15, 2004. That was a day after Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.

Bryant became infuriated Tuesday when a Los Angeles Times columnist quoted a Lakers "insider" as saying it was Bryant's insistence on getting away from O'Neal that prompted the trade to Miami.

Bryant told KLAC he knew who the so-called insider was, but wouldn't identify the person.

Bryant also said he feels Buss misled him three years ago -- right before he re-signed with the Lakers -- by telling him one thing and Jackson something else about the team's goals.

Bryant said he was told the Lakers would immediately try to rejoin the NBA's elite. But he said Jackson told him Tuesday that Buss was not bringing him back as coach following the 2003-04 season because the Lakers were committed to reducing payroll and rebuilding long term.

"They said nothing to me about a long-term plan. Absolutely nothing," Bryant told KLAC. "They told Phil one thing and they told me another. Actions speak louder than words."

Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, didn't respond to several messages left by The Associated Press.

The Lakers won championships from 2000-02 and reached the NBA finals again in 2004, losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games. The team was broken up at that time. O'Neal was traded, Jackson left and other stalwarts -- Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Rick Fox -- went elsewhere or retired.

The Lakers failed to make the playoffs the following season. With Jackson returning before the 2005-06 campaign, they finished seventh in the Western Conference in each of the past two years, but were eliminated by Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers appeared to be title contenders through the first half of this season, going 26-13 despite several injuries. But they lost 27 of their last 43 games to finish 42-40 before bowing to the Suns in five games.

Bryant urged the team at season's end to do what it takes to get back into contention. He essentially repeated those comments last weekend in an interview with the Times.

On Sunday, he suggested former Lakers general manager Jerry West should return. West left the team in the summer of 2000 and was succeeded by Kupchak.

West, an employee of the Lakers for about 40 years as a player, coach and executive, is under contract as the Memphis Grizzlies' president until July 1. He turned 69 this week and has remained a close friend of Kupchak's. West has said he has "no plans to seek employment with any other organization."

It was West who brought Bryant to the Lakers, trading center Vlade Divac to Charlotte in the summer of 1996 for the rights to Bryant -- the 13th pick in the NBA draft. Bryant was only 17 at the time.

Bryant has made the All-Star team in each of the past nine seasons, clearly establishing himself as an NBA great before age 30. Only one active NBA player, Kevin Garnett, has a longer tenure with one team than Bryant. Garnett has played 12 seasons for Minnesota.

Bryant's anger boiled over Tuesday, when he did a series of interviews bashing the Lakers.

"That place is a mess," Bryant said, referring to the team's front office. "If we're not making strides here to improve this team right now, to be aggressive in that nature, then what's the point of having me here?"

That same day, the 74-year-old Buss was arrested in Carlsbad for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released on bail later in the day.

"The fact of the matter is that many people don't know what really went down when I was approaching free agency because I have stayed quiet about it this whole time," Bryant wrote Tuesday on his Web site. "The real facts are that Dr. Buss requested a meeting with me during the '04 season long before I opted out of my contract, and he told me he had already decided not to extend Shaq, as he was concerned about Shaq's age, fitness and contract demands.

"Dr. Buss made it clear that his decision was final, his mind was made up, and no matter what I decided to do with free agency, he was still going to move Shaq."

O'Neal said on the Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site he believed Bryant "100 percent."

"There is no doubt in my mind Kobe is telling the truth," O'Neal added.

Bryant said he was considering signing with the Clippers and Chicago Bulls three years ago before hearing from Buss.

"Dr. Buss promised me he would rebuild right away, and I believed him," Bryant wrote. "That is why I put my trust in the Lakers. But when stuff like this is coming from the 'inside,' all I can do is hope that someone from the 'inside' comes forward to support me and set straight the facts of what really happened. This is the TRUTH."

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Re: Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

Like I said to much drama with this idiot.  big_smile

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Can the Lakers get Kobe help?
May 31st, 2007

(Sports Network) - Wow, how things change! One minute superstar Kobe Bryant wants the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him, and the next he doesn't want to go anywhere.

What's the deal?

Bryant obviously wants to be the go-to guy wherever he plays. He is arguably the best player in the game. If he is not at the top of the list he is definitely two or three at the least,

Now that the Lakers are supposedly going to try and win with Kobe leading the way, what can management do to get their All-Star guard the necessary help to get the franchise back to elite status?

Since sending Shaquille O'Neal packing on July 14, 2004, the Lakers are below .500 (121-125) in three seasons without the All-Star center. They have qualified for the playoffs in two of the three seasons, but have been eliminated twice in the first round. Los Angeles fell in five games to the Pacific Division champion Phoenix Suns in round one of this year's playoffs. In 2006, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead in the opening round against Phoenix. They fell in seven contests and were eliminated in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1996.

All of the sudden, this offseason has become a very important one for the franchise. Kobe wants to win now, and he knows his current supporting cast is not good enough to compete with Dallas, San Antonio and Phoenix. The Lakers aren't even in the same class as Denver, Houston or Utah.

The Lakers have the 19th overall pick in this year's draft. They should be able to get a decent player, but it won't be someone who can step in and have an immediate impact.

Trades and free agency will be the places that Los Angeles will look to improve its roster. What do the Lakers need and what can they do?

Forward Lamar Odom, who was acquired from the Miami Heat in the Shaq deal, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum are all decent players with value. But the fact remains, none of them seem to have what it takes to help Kobe lead the Lakers to the promised land.

The seven-foot Bynum is just 19-years-old and has shown that he should eventually develop into a productive NBA center. He played all 82 regular- season games in 2006-07, and averaged 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Bryant, who averaged an NBA-best 31.6 points per game in 77 contests this past season, probably does not want to wait around for Bynum to develop. It may take three-to-five years for the teenager to hit his stride and become a force in the middle.

Trading Bynum, who probably has the most value after Bryant, could become a reality in the offseason. While the Lakers love Bynum's potential, they know he could be the player that helps them get the player they need to become contenders once again.

Who's available?

Rashard Lewis is the big catch in this year's free agent pool. The 6-10 Lewis averaged 22.4 points and 6.6 boards in 60 games for the Seattle SuperSonics this past season. Lewis, who could be headed to Orlando, is an excellent player, but is not the missing piece to the puzzle.

The Lakers need to make a blockbuster trade without including Bryant. What about Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal or Pau Gasol of Memphis? Those are two big men who could help the Lakers immediately. Any deal involving the two would have to include Bynum.

Jermaine O'Neal is a perennial All-Star. He averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in 2006-07. Gasol, who was an All-Star in 2005-06 and would probably welcome a trade to the Lakers, posted 20.8 points and 9.8 boards in 59 contests for the Grizzlies.

LA will try and rebuild once again with Kobe as the center piece. Adding a dominant big man is the answer, and Jermaine O'Neal or Gasol would fit perfectly.

The Pacers and Grizzlies both did not qualify for the 2007 playoffs, and could be headed for a makeover this summer. Acquiring Jermaine O'Neal or Gasol would make Bryant a very happy camper. What would it take?

Indiana will consider a deal if it makes sense. Including Bynum would keep Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird on the phone. However, it would be a tricky deal with the strict rules of the salary cap, as O'Neal makes a lot of money.

Here is a deal that makes sense. Jermaine O'Neal and Mike Dunleavy, who was acquired by the Pacers in a blockbuster deal with Golden State during last season, for Bynum, Odom, who averaged 15.9 points and a team-high 9.8 boards in 2006-07, Brown and the 19th pick in this year's draft.

And if that doesn't work. What about Bynum, Brown, Odom and LA's first-round pick in this year's draft for Gasol and sharp-shooting Mike Miller? Memphis missed the playoffs for the first time in four years and was 0-12 in the postseason during its three-year playoff run. The Grizzlies are headed in a new direction and they may primed to make a blockbuster deal.

The Lakers have to be bold during the offseason, and get Kobe the help that he needs. Or the next time Bryant demands a trade will probably be the real deal.

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Lakers owner speaks with Bryant, promises to improve team
May 31, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Lakers owner Jerry Buss spoke with Kobe Bryant on Thursday and said he told his frustrated superstar he would ``pursue every avenue possible'' to improve the team.

The conversation took place a day after Bryant asked to be traded, saying among other things he had been misled by Buss nearly three years ago when he re-signed with the Lakers.

``I talked with Kobe this morning and assured him that I share his frustration and, more importantly, I assured him that we will continue to pursue every avenue possible to improve our team with him as the cornerstone,'' Buss said in a statement. ``I told him that we will keep him apprised of our progress and we agreed that we will talk again in the very near future.''

Bryant, the NBA scoring champion the past two years, asked the Lakers for a trade Wednesday. He said nothing could change his mind, but he backed off somewhat after speaking with coach Phil Jackson.

``I don't want to go anywhere - this is my team,'' Bryant told KLAC radio. ``I love it here. I called Phil, man. He and I talked; it was an emotional conversation. But he just said, 'You know what, Kobe? Let us try to figure this thing out.'''

Bryant said at that time he hadn't heard from Buss, indicating a conversation could go a long way toward resolving the matter.

Some three hours earlier, in an interview with ESPN radio, Bryant said he wanted to be traded. He added that it was a matter of trust, and he would rather ``go play on Pluto'' than remain with the Lakers.

Bryant, who turns 29 in August, is owed $88.6 million for the four years he has left on the seven-year, $136.4 million contract he signed July 15, 2004. That was a day after Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.

Bryant said he felt Buss misled him right before he re-signed by telling him one thing and Jackson something else about the team's goals.

Bryant said he was told the Lakers would immediately try to rejoin the NBA's elite. But he said Jackson told him this week that Buss wasn't bringing him back as coach following the 2003-04 season because the Lakers were committed to reducing payroll and rebuilding long term.

Jackson was out of coaching one season before being rehired by the Lakers, who haven't won a playoff series since Bryant re-signed. Bryant has the right to terminate his contract after the 2008-09 season.

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Re: Bryant asks for trade; says Buss mastermined trading O'Neal

Kobe reportedly reiterates trade demand
June 16, 2007

Kobe Bryant has decided he wants out of L.A. — again.

Just weeks after announcing on a sports radio show of being "frustrated" and expressing a desire to be traded from the Lakers only to later back off after talking to coach Phil Jackson, Bryant met with Lakers owner Jerry Buss on Friday in Barcelona and reiterated his trade demand, the Los Angeles Times and Press Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) reported.

Buss was reportedly shocked by Bryant's stance and left the meeting unsure what he would do. Both papers reported he said it would be "impossible" to get equal value in return for Bryant.

The Lakers confirmed that the two did meet on Friday, but would not talk about the details of the meeting. Bryant was in Barcelona on vacation, and Buss was on vacation in China before going to London and then to Barcelona.

"Our position is that it's a private meeting between the two of them and it shall remain private between the two of them," Lakers public relations director John Black told the Press Enterprise.

Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, was unavailable.

Bryant stated almost three weeks ago in a barrage of interviews on radio and in newspapers that he wanted out of L.A. “I would like to be traded, yeah. Tough as it is to come to that conclusion, there’s no other alternative. It’s rough, man, but I don’t see how you can rebuild that trust. I just don’t know how you can move forward in that type of situation.”

But then later that day he backed off his comments, telling KLAC radio "I don’t want to go anywhere, this is my team."

Bryant is the only NBA player with a no-trade clause in his contract. He had said he would waive that clause. But he could make a trade more difficult because he has a three-team wish list, the Press Enterprise reported Friday. Two of the teams are the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.

One report had the Lakers hoping to acquire Bulls center Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Chicago's No. 1 draft pick (9) for Bryant.

But the sources said every team, including the Bulls, knows the Lakers will try to "gut" a team in order to get as much value as possible for Bryant.

Bryant could also veto a trade if he thinks the team has to give up too many players, which, the sources said, could also make a trade more difficult.

For a team to acquire Bryant, it cannot swap one or more players exceeding 125 percent of his $19,490,625 million salary he'll earn this season.

www.msnbc.msn.com

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