O.C. Register: It feels like eternity from here, but at this time last year there was a lot of talk about trading most of the Chicago Bulls’ young and skilled roster for one Kobe Bryant.
Neither side really wanted to do it, so nothing happened … unfortunately for Chicago. But with Bryant sitting out the Lakers’ exhibition game Thursday night, it’s a good time to offer up this bit of conjecture …
Which is more valuable – most of the Lakers’ young and skilled roster or one Kobe Bryant?
Let’s put the other high-level Lakers – Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom – to the side for now. Would the Lakers have a better chance for success this season if they went in without Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Trevor Ariza, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton, Chris Mihm, Josh Powell, DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue and Coby Karl (yes, without all of them)… or without Bryant?
Given how potent a front four of Bryant, Gasol, Bynum and Odom would still be, you’d probably have to prefer the reigning NBA MVP. Too bad you’d need to get some scrub – hey, Smush Parker was just cut by Denver on Thursday! – to fill out your starting lineup, but you could still be pretty good, barring injuries.
That’s a testament to how Bryant no longer has to do it all, because having three elite players behind you is serious support. Consider that back in the 2004-05 season, the top four of the Lakers’ roster was Bryant, Odom, an unproven Caron Butler entering his third NBA season and … Vlade Divac? Chucky Atkins? Mihm? Jumaine Jones?