Bartering the Big Kahuna?

For reasons mostly involving ego, Shaq and Kobe no longer wish to play together. The economic question is why two superstars can’t seem to get along on the same team. L.A., arguably America’s largest sports market, is the value-maximizing place to play ball, but pride, envy, and relative status seem to have won out.

And what would the Lakers get? Butler, a small forward/guard, can start on most teams in the NBA. Odom and Grant give them a plausible front line. The idea is that Kobe and Odom will be the new Jordan and Pippen. Unlikely, but the Dallas Mavericks were not offering anyone who could play defense.

Shaq is 32, has played twelve seasons (mostly long and tough), and no longer has stellar games on a back-to-back basis without a few days’ rest. He doesn’t try very hard throughout most of the regular season, which is poison for team morale, and he is on the verge of being a defensive liability. Miami may make the Eastern finals, but if the Lakers can’t get through Detroit I bet Miami won’t either. Miami already made the second round of the playoffs this year. In two years what will they have left?

The Lakers would be taking on risks too. If Odom is caught smoking pot again, he has to sit out an entire year. And how about this bit?

“Even though his scoring average dropped from 15.2 to 9.2 points last season, [Caron] Butler has great potential.

Butler also has a checkered past, being arrested 15 times before age 15. He spent a year in jail for bringing a gun and cocaine to school.”

Here is the analysis of the ever-smart Marty Burns on the pending deal. Tony Kornheiser agrees.

The bottom line? This would be one of the biggest deals in NBA history. But oddly neither team is giving up or getting very much.

And oh yes, this guy could stop the deal.


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