Will Kobe Be Available? (UPDATED)

[UPDATE: Kobe has 'demanded' a trade from the Lakers.]

I know that whole message boards have gone on tangents attempting to define a superstar, and I don't want that to happen here.  I also don't want this discussion to get hijacked by the question of whether or not a team needs a superstar to win a championship.  I believe that while the team needs a few upgrades, it is possible for them to win a championship or two, although I think you need a dominating offensive weapon to establish a dynasty.  Still, no matter your position on that debate, all would be interested in acquiring a superstar- a top ten player, a dominating offensive/defensive force.

Kobe Bryant is obviously such a player.  And he had interest, at one time, in coming to the Bulls (precisely in the one offseason when we stank where they didn't have the money to sign him without going over the cap.)   And he is now disgruntled with the Lakers:

Does this mean that LA is going to give him up, even for two of the Bulls core?  No.  Its doubtful that LA would ever consider trading Kobe, after shipping out Shaq and PJ to accommodate him and centering their marketing effort after him.

And Kobe is not likely to truly demand a trade.  LA is assumed to hire West anyways, will probably try to trade some future for some present, although Jim Buss is still unwilling to relinquish Andrew Bynum.

But it is possible.  If the Lakers aren't able to get a Kevin Garnett or Jermain O'Neal this offseason, and make only minor moves that prove ineffective, then Kobe is likely to want to get a move out.  He knows his reputation as a ballhog, as a selfish brat who pushed out the player most likely to win him a title, and knows his time as a superstar is limited.  While he will be 30 next year, this next year will be his 12th in the NBA's rigorous 82-game schedule, and he's played a lot of minutes with a lot of pressure on him.  His insatiable competitiveness is unsatisfied with finishing in a six spot and losing to the Suns in 5.

I wouldn't even have suggested this had not Kobe been so enamored with the Bulls the first time around.  He really seemed to appreciate Paxson and Skiles and desire to play in Chicago, where superstars are idolized.  Maybe there's some MJ wannabe that factors in.  But he did express that wish clearly, and now he is clearly expressing unhappiness in LA.

I have thrown in as many caveats as possible to make it clear that I DO NOT believe Kobe will ever play for Chicago.  But I think it's possible, if the stars get together in the right way, if the Lakers manage to truly piss off Kobe and Kobe decides he MUST get out of town.  So my questions for the public are twofold: First of all, what would you be willing to give up to reel in Kobe?  Second of all, how do you think the Bulls would fare after having made such sacrifices?  Be realistic in what they'd have to give up, even if Kobe was publicly eviscerating the Laker organization.  And recognize that its not happening this offseason, so there are some variables which are unclear.  But overall, I think it would be useful to consider what Kobe would be worth to our team and how our makeup would change, if only to get a better grasp of evaluating how much you value the current Bulls.

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