Monday , Aug , 06 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Time To Appease Kobe Bryant: Los Angeles Lakers Must Acquire Jermaine O’Neal

They must convince Bryant they’ll upgrade his supporting cast and that he shouldn’t use his opt-out clause. They must appease. Problem is appeasement has been a failure. Jason Kidd isn’t heading west to Hollywood. And Kevin Garnett did get traded-just to the rival Celtics instead of the Lakers. So now the purple-and-gold has turned their attention to acquiring Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal …

Arash Markazi reports on Jermaine O’Neal lobbying for a trade to the Lakers:

"I would welcome a trade to the Lakers," said O’Neal, who averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots last season. "Indiana has given me the opportunity to establish myself as a really good player in this league, but they’re into rebuilding and going really young, and I’m just not in a position physically to go through another five to six years with a lot of losses and a lot of down time."

The Lakers have tried to acquire O’Neal, 28, several times this offseason, but talks have reportedly stalled over Indiana’s insistence that the Lakers’ package include both Lamar Odom and 19-year-old center Andrew Bynum.

My Quick Take: The appeasement of Kobe Bryant continues. The ‘ star is unhappy and has publicly demanded a trade. But the Lakers can’t trade because there is no hope of getting back equal value. Equal value for Bryant doesn’t exist.

Simple enough. Star wants out. Team refuses and holds star player to his multi-million dollar contract.

Wrong. Bryant has leverage. The all-world guard holds an opt-out clause in his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent in two seasons. He could leave and the Lakers would get nothing in return.

Laker-nation understands this is the worst case scenario. Mention Bryant’s opt-out clause to Laker fans and they shiver in a cold fright. Some, in desperation, write heart-felt letters to Bryant. Others recoil in the fetal position.

Faced with such a disastrous situation, the front office must produce. They must convince Bryant they’ll upgrade his supporting cast and that he shouldn’t use his opt-out clause. They must appease.

Problem is appeasement has been a failure. Jason Kidd isn’t heading west to Hollywood. And did get traded-just to the rival Celtics instead of the Lakers. So now the purple-and-gold has turned their attention to acquiring Indiana‘s Jermaine O’Neal.

O’Neal and Bryant have much in common. They both went from high school straight to the pros. They both spent the early part of their careers on the bench, watching older players soak up the limelight. And they both have become frustrated leading mediocre teams. Most importantly, they’re both hitting their prime at 28 years old.

Much was made of Boston’s Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce being at similar points in their careers. Well, O’Neal and Bryant are also at similar points in their careers. Could these kindred spirits make the Lakers relevant again? That’s hard to say. The west is awfully competitive. And they would need a third star to emerge.

But the Lakers must pull off a blockbuster deal to provide Bryant with help. Or appeasement becomes the code-red, worst case scenario, where Bryant opts-out of his contract and continues his career elsewhere.

Should the Lakers  pursue Jermaine O’Neal? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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