Though the focus of this summer's free agency is squarely on
Because it seems a foregone conclusion that
But as coach
The primary destination: New York.
"I could see that happening," one general manager told SI.com. "But I couldn't see both Kobe and LeBron ending up in New York at the same time. Two alpha personalities are not going to be able to play together."
Perhaps, but if James stays in Cleveland, the Knicks could possibly put together a lineup that features Bryant, Bosh,
As difficult as it is to imagine, landing Bryant would be plan B for New York. Based on their actions, the Knicks have made it clear their first option in the 2010 free-agent bonanza is James. The 25-year-old is at the height of his career -- a career that seemingly has no bounds -- and he's used his star power to leverage multiple lucrative marketing opportunities. A perfect fit for Madison Avenue.
As for Bryant, as well as he continues to play, his 31-year-old body is sure to catch up to him soon. Bryant, in his 14th season, has gone to the NBA Finals six times, winning four. The 159 playoff games he has played constitute two additional seasons, not to mention the international games in which he has participated for the U.S. Olympic team.
"He does so much for us, it takes a lot out of him," teammate
Bryant's value, regardless of age, is undeniable. And when paired with a second, younger star, Bryant is a good second option if the Knicks -- who have unloaded several contracts to reserve more than $30 million in salary-cap space -- cannot lure LeBron.
What's more, Bryant has close ties with coach
Bryant has avoided discussing his ability to opt out of his contract this season. He took enough of a hit when he asked to be traded in 2007 and does not want to raise that type of distraction again as the Lakers attempt to repeat.
The primary reason Bryant would choose not to leave, besides the fact that he has spent his entire career with Los Angeles, is that if he opts out of his final year, he could sacrifice more than $8 million by taking a $16.5 million first-year salary with the Knicks, as well as the money he could lose in raises by signing an extension with the Lakers.
However, he also could sign a five-year deal for the remainder of his career, however long that is. Over the past few seasons, he said he cannot envision playing to pursue
And perhaps this is where the Knicks can take advantage.
Bosh, for one, said he cannot see the Lakers putting Bryant in a position where he would want to leave, no matter how little Buss likes spending money on anything other than player salaries.
"I doubt they'll piss off Kobe," Bosh said. "That would be a bad decision. And I don't think they are bad business people. Would you let Kobe go?"
But what if Bryant's leaving is not a Lakers decision?
"Yeah, it is their decision," Bosh said. "He says what he wants and I think it is on them to meet his demands. They are not bad business people; I doubt they'll let him go."
• New Orleans point guard
That is good news for the Hornets, who have gone 3-12 in his absence over the past few weeks. But it's bad news for rookie
"Darren has played really well," Hornet coach
Bower chooses to view the positives aspects of the situation. But it is hard for a young player trying to establish himself in the eyes of his peers to go from the productivity that Collison has displayed to a backup with limited minutes.
Bower may have to play Paul and Collison together at times, which will be interesting because few teams use two 6-footers in the backcourt together.
"We will use all the talents of all those guys," Bower said. "Chris can be pretty dynamic as a scorer with Darren Collison. It should make us pretty effective in guarding the ball. We should be able to pressure the ball and contain the ball very well. I look at it as what type of positives it creates for us."
Bower, the team's general manager who took over as coach when he fired
"It is something we are going to wait until the year is over and all sit down and discuss," Bower said. "We have not made any decisions or discussed it. I've loved working with these guys and I've enjoyed this process we have gone through."
• When the Lakers were in Golden State last week, the Warriors had the opportunity to tie the game at the end with a three-pointer. Coming out of a timeout, Warriors rookie
Bryant, who has seen his share of pressure situations and hit six game-winners this season, sneered at the youngster.
"Worried?" he said. "Hit the three-pointer to tie the game and then I'll show you who should be worried. Worried?"
• When I covered the NFL, I once attended the owners' meetings at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. During a break, I was sitting on a bench next to San Francisco 49ers general manager
Eventually, his wife came and sat next to us and commented just how nice it was to actually spend a little time with her husband. Over the next 20 minutes, she detailed how difficult it was to raise young children with a husband who spends so much time at the office. They never went on family vacations because during the NFL season he couldn't, and the offseason was when he did most of his real work.
McCloughan felt bad but was unapologetic. You can't have one of 32 of some of the most coveted jobs in the world, he told his wife, and then rest on your laurels once you get the position of your dreams. You have to work even harder, he said.
It made me sad to see that McCloughan was relieved of his position as the Niners' GM last week to focus on personal issues, showing yet again how the demands of professional sports are overlooked for the glamour and riches that come with working in the industry.