| 6 years ago||
Kobe speaks on free agency, takes a shot at Smush Parker
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DENVER -- Kobe Bryant played the role of basketball historian Thursday.
When asked about star players in the NBA now being able to dictate where they might play, the Lakers star guard scoffed at the notion. He said free agency is nothing like it was when he broke into the NBA in 1996-97, the same season in which the Lakers signed center Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent.
"How is he controlling his destiny?'' Bryant said when asked whether Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony is able to control his destiny on where he might be dealt by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. "No, you're seeing the power of the league controlling the players and not having the freedom to be able to move wherever they want. Free agency isn't free agency anymore. It's just not. It's the reverse.
"It's not the same. Free agency is not free agency. Players go other places, you take a significant pay cut to go play someplace else. You get less years and all sorts of stuff. It's not the same as free agency like when Shaquille was a free agent. ... That was true free agency. You could go to whatever team of your choice and have a similar contract and similar structure.''
Bryant obviously doesn't like the current NBA rules, implemented in the collective bargaining agreement following the 1998-99 lockout and further adjusted during the current CBA that was introduced in 2005. Rules call for free agents to be able to get an extra contract year and higher raises if staying with their team.
Even though a number of teams were able to get underneath the salary cap and compete for big-name free agents last summer, Bryant still didn't consider that true free agency. That's despite top players such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amar'e Stoudemire changing teams.
"If this was '96, LeBron and (Dwyane) Wade all would have went to Miami ... and not have to take the sacrificial pay cut or whatever,'' Bryant said of James going to Miami along with Bosh and Wade re-signing with the Heat.
James and Bosh, though, were able to get six-year, rather than five-year deals, and 10.5-percent, rather than 8-percent raises, by agreeing to sign-and-trades from Cleveland and Toronto, respectively. And there was a limit to the salary-cap room Miami had. Regardless, Bryant was asked about free agency perhaps getting even more restrictive with the current CBA expiring June 30 and a possible lockout on the horizon.
"There's concern about it in terms of the amount of liberties that players have to make a living in whatever city they choose to in terms of playing basketball,'' said Bryant, speaking after a practice at the Pepsi Center in preparation for Friday's game against Denver. "At the end of the day, it's just basketball. I'm sure our business folks will work out that end of the deal. And it will be all good.''
Bryant asked to be traded entering the 2007-08 season. He admits he had more leverage than most players due to his contract.
"I kind of had the upper hand because I had a no-trade clause,'' Bryant said. "My situation was a little different.''
Bryant was upset the Lakers weren't spending the money to put enough talent around him. But that all changed when they dealt for All-Star big man Pau Gasol on Feb. 1, 2008. The result has been three straight Finals appearances and two consecutive NBA titles.
"I know for me it was all about winning,'' Bryant said. "In my situation, we weren't spending the money to get players (to the Lakers). They had me playing around with Smush Parker (an undrafted journeyman who started in the backcourt alongside Bryant from 2005-07). So until they decided they wanted to make the necessary sacrifice financially that was competitive, then I didn't want to be (with the Lakers).''
Lakers coach Phil Jackson called "it a pretty intense time for our team'' when Bryant requested a trade. Bryant was asked what would have happened if he hadn't have spoken out back then.
"I don't know,'' he said. "Probably just coast again. Just coast again. But I wasn't going for that.''
The Lakers didn't go for that either once there was a fear of Bryant eventually leaving as a free agent.
"They knew what (Bryant wanted),'' Bryant said. "Spend the money and get me some players here. The fans aren't dumb. They saw what I was playing with. (Bryant told management), 'You're going to have to step up to the plate a little bit.' They stepped up to the plate. They spent the money needed to. They signed Gasol, extended him (later). I had no issues.''
As for Parker, Bryant sure had issues with him. He said he could not care less what Parker, who has been out of the league since 2007-08, thinks about Bryant having called him out.
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Kobe Bryant: Players No Longer Control Their Own Destiny -- NBA FanHouse
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i know kobe has been advising melo. maybe he's just tryna scare denver into some upgrades
but then again, the nuggets are pretty good as is