When I was younger, my friends and I had a name for the guy who always seemed to mess things up when you were trying to talk to a girl. The guy who would interrupt your conversation to tell you that it was time to leave because he promised his mom he’d have her station wagon home by midnight.
We called him Mr. Salty. Not salty in the bitter sense but salty in that he knew how to throw salt in your game at the worst possible time. But don’t confuse Mr. Salty with your standard c-ck blocker.
The difference is that your standard c-ck blocker knew exactly what he was doing. Mr. Salty just didn’t know any better. The c-ck blocker would purposefully mention that you had a girlfriend back home because he was also interested in the girl you were talking to, whereas Mr. Salty would do it by accident.
For the second time in five years, it’s time for Kobe Bryant to stop playing the role of Mr. Salty. When he told reporters after Sunday night’s embarrassing loss to the Suns that the Lakers front office either needed to trade Pau Gasol or let it be known that they aren’t trading him, he stepped in the same pile of dog sh-t he did when he asked the Lakers to trade him a month before Kevin Garnett was traded to the Celtics.
Here’s what Garnett told Dan Patrick last September (via Boston.com) when Patrick asked him about the possibility of him joining the Lakers before the 2007 season:
“I was pretty close, to be honest. What disturbed me about the whole Lakers situation was Kobe and Phil at the time. They were at each other pretty bad, and it was a new situation I didn’t want to get into. It was my choice. There was a lot going on and I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
About a month before Garnett had asked to be traded, Kobe went on a talk radio “bar crawl” and called every sports talk radio show in L.A. and let it be known that he wanted to be traded. Had he kept his mouth shut, there’s a good chance that Garnett could have been wrapping up a Hall of Fame career in purple and gold instead of green and white. Garnett wasn’t going to leave one dysfunctional situation in Minnesota for another in Los Angeles. Kobe’s trade demand created chaos in the organization at a time when stability was needed most.
All was forgiven and forgotten when the Lakers were able to trade for Gasol and make it to three consecutive NBA Finals—winning two of them. That doesn’t mean that Kobe isn’t lucky that most Lakers fans either don’t know that story or have chosen to forget about it.
I don’t blame Kobe for not understanding much about the art of negotiation. But he has to realize that with every word that comes out of his mouth, the more Gasol’s value drops in terms of a trade. The more teams perceive that Gasol needs to be traded as soon as possible, the more they will try to low-ball the Lakers.
In other words, chill the [expletive] out. You’re not helping.
If Kobe should be directing his words at anyone, it’s Gasol. I would privately tell Pau, “It’s February 20. The trade deadline is March 15. That’s less than a month away. If you want to be here, prove to them you they’d be stupid to trade you. But if you don’t, ask them to find you a situation that will be best for you to finish out that last two years of your contract.”
The Lakers have always been a franchise known for keeping their cards close to the vest. The only trade that I can ever remember being talked about before it happened was the trade that sent Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell to Charlotte for Glen Rice, J.R. Reid, and B.J. Armstrong. That was 13 years ago.
Mitch Kupchak isn’t blind to what’s going on. He knows this team needs help and that the new collective bargaining agreement didn’t do the Lakers any favors. But there haven’t been any rumors that he’s been shopping Gasol since the failed Chris Paul trade. All of the rumors have mostly revolved around other teams showing interest. There are far more players who have had their names mentioned in trade rumors than not. That’s just the way it is.
But between now and March 15, it’s best that both of them just worry about those things they can control – playing basketball and trying to win more games. The rest will take care of itself in due time.
Andrew Ungvari is a screenwriter and co-lead blogger for SirCharlesInCharge.com. Follow him on twitter @DrewUnga.