Pistons travel to the eye of the Kobe storm

The Pistons are in Los Angeles facing the Lakers tonight, and earlier today Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold asked me a few questions about the Pistons earlier today for his readers. I obliged, and as you'll read below, he made time to do the same for us ...

Matt: There was a silly rumor floating around Detroit that Kobe Bryant vetoed a trade to the Pistons earlier this week. It's since been dismissed, but as a fan, is there a hypothetical package of Pistons that you would pull the trigger on?

Kurt: Is there one I, trying to channel Mitch Kupchak, would pull a trigger on? Sure, if you gutted your team (say, for example, the deal rumored of Prince, Hamilton, Johnson plus a first rounder and then throw in Stucky and Maxiell, and I’d still have to think about that. Then, how many contracts to I have to buy out as the Lakers, with 14 guaranteed deals right now, to make that work?). The real problem with any deal for Kobe is he has that no trade clause and he wants to go to a contender — he wants to be traded but not to gut the team he’s going to. To butcher a cliché, Kobe wants his cake and to eat it too, but the Lakers want someone to pay for that second cake. And whether it is the Bulls or the Pistons or anyone else, the fair market price (or even something close to it) for Kobe guts the team he is going to, not really improving his current situation. Plus, the fact he went on the "Summer of our Discontent" radio tour weakened the Lakers negotiating stance. (I’m not a big Sports Guy fan, but he makes a good point — Kobe didn’t handle that same situation as well as Paul Pierce.)

On a scale of 1-100, with 1 being "hell no!" and 100 being "it's only a matter of time," is Kobe being traded this year?

I’d guess I’d say 33. The thing is, if Kobe looks at some of the strides the young Lakers players have made, the fact he has another borderline All-Star in Odom, the fact the fans here love him more than anywhere else, he’s going to be hard pressed to find a situation that is better once another team is gutted from any trade. The question is: Has his relationship with the front office been so poisoned it can’t be repaired? Despite what Stephen A. Smith will tell you, nobody really knows the answer to that, save Kobe. And maybe even his position could change.

There is no one bad guy in this situation, no black and white answers. Just a lot of people in shades of gray.

Andrew Bynum: better than Jason Kidd?

Today, no. Two or three years from now? Yes. And this is the source of Kobe’s frustration — is the front office building for now or three years from now? There are four guys who speak for the franchise — owner Jerry Buss, his son Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson — and there is clearly a Shakespearian power struggle going on up there. They say they all talk and are on the same page, then with the next sentence contradict each other. And there just seems to be no clear plan for where to take this team — why sign Vladamir Radmanovic to a five-year deal then give Brian Cook (a poor man’s Radmanovic with the same skill set but not as polished) an extension?

Now, to be fair to your question, Andrew Bynum has taken a big step forward this season and you’ll see that tonight. He leads the league in rebound rate, is grabbing 17.3 rebounds per 40 minutes and is shooting 57.1%. His PER is 23.36, second best on the team to Kobe. He worked very hard this off-season to improve his conditioning (dropped the baby fat and put on muscle) and that is emblematic of his good work ethic. This kid is not going to be a Shaq or Greg Oden (if Oden is what we all think), but he can be a very good center. I think the best description is (for your older fans) a Brad Daugherty when healthy. That is hard to come by and can be a key part of a championship team with the right other pieces. There are a lot fewer people on the "trade Bynum" bandwagon today then there were six weeks ago.

The Lakers have a of history snatching up former Pistons point guards, from Lindsey Hunter to Chucky Atkins to Smush Parker. What's the over/under for how long until Flip Murray is starting for L.A.?

No, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Actually, PG is the place the Lakers are most set. Fisher is a solid veteran, but Jordan Farmar is a young, smart player who is a gym rat — he got a lot better and his shot more smooth this off-season. And behind him is the more talented but raw Javaris Crittenton. The future seems set there, so hopefully no more Smush Parkers to set us back. Then again, read the last question about the front office again.....

Thanks again to Kurt for taking time, especially considering he gave me much more time to respond than I gave him. As usual, leave your thoughts about the game in the comments -- yes, it's another late one (10pm), but it's a Friday and you worked hard this week, you deserve this. Plus, for everyone out of town, this one's on ESPN.

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