Lakers Face Decision: Toxic Kobe or Dwight?
However, there are certain issues that remain with the Lakers and Dwight that are quite unresolved and it could lead to him darting for Texas with either the Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks. The main reason is most likely Kobe Bryant. Yes, Mike D'Antoni can't seem to find the best spots for Dwight to receive the ball and his offensive strategy just didn't fit the mold of Dwight's game - but the main issue lies in Kobe.
Bryant is not 25 anymore. He's not even 30 anymore. He's about to turn 35 and that's before his Achilles is fully healed. He demands the ball and he put up 15-20 shots per night while bypassing the simple play for a chance at the extraordinary. Kobe is one of the greatest players to grace the hardwood. There is no denying that. But it's natural progression for a superstar athlete to decline in his mid-30's, specifically one who has played professionally since age 18. If he doesn't want to change his game and become more of the role player he once was with Shaq before he drove him out of LA then Dwight will leave.
There isn't a big man in the game who believes that an offense should be run through the perimeter scorer - and they are correct in thinking that way. Dwight knows the offense needs to be run through the post. He is successful at demanding double teams, which is why shooters, cutters and slashers are required. Ball-stopping guards allow the defense to react quicker because all they have to do is watch Kobe dribble and jab-step for 20 seconds before he launches a contested 20-footer.
Kobe is standing in Dwight's way - and no one is surprised. Yet, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss won't tell him otherwise. Mike D'Antoni sure as hell wont tell Kobe to stop being Kobe either. The Lakers have an issue on their hands. They are due to pay Kobe just south of $30 million this season, yet they want to keep Howard on a 5-year, $100+ million deal as well. That investment just isn't worth it to them or Howard because discord on the court translates into frustration and losses piling up.
If the Lakers had to choose between the two, Bryant or Howard - why would they not amnesty Kobe right now? Boston just traded Paul Pierce, a Celtic lifer. Why can't the Lakers see into the future and let Bryant go? Because sentimentality is blinding them to reality. Kobe is not the Kobe he once was. And he most certainly won't be the Kobe he was even this past year once he returns from Achilles rehab.
Dump Kobe if you want to keep Dwight. It's the only way.