The Lakers would trade Kobe Bryant to Dallas if they could get Dirk Nowitzki in return but the deal is unlikely to happen, according to Mirror sources.
With Bryant under contract to the Lakers for two more years without a way to escape, owner Jerry Buss has all the leverage now and has stated he would honor Bryant’s trade requests only for equal value. Buss considers Nowitzki, Dallas’ 7-foot star, equal value.
‘‘I am not interested in trading Dirk for Kobe,” said Dallas owner Mark Cuban. ‘‘It would be a star for a star and a lateral move. I have not talked to Jerry Buss about this but that’s what I will tell him.”
Buss says he has received numerous offers for Bryant but doesn’t think any would be beneficial to the Lakers.
So it will be surprising if Bryant isn’t still with the team when it begins the season October 30 at Staples Center against Houston despite a growing rift between Bryant and the Lakers’ front office.
According to sources at the Lakers’ exhibition doubleheaders last weekend, Bryant continues to fume at the Lakers’ failure to improve their roster following first-round playoff losses the last two years and members of the organization are becoming increasingly unhappy with his complaining.
“This is how divorces get started,” said one.
Some teammates, however, are trying to put the matter aside.
‘‘That’s between Kobe and the front office,” said forward Lamar Odom. ‘‘Our job is to play.”
Center Andrew Bynum, who was targeted by Bryant in the summer as someone who should be traded, said the comments made him work harder. He excused Bryant’s harsh criticism as frustration over the early playoff elimination.
A year from now the momentum will shift to Bryant. He’ll be only a year away from freedom and the Lakers may have to seriously consider offers to prevent Bryant from leaving without compensation in 2009.