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The year of Kobe....

Until Kobe Bryant gets moved, rumors about where he's headed are going to circulate through the NBA and today, those rumors found Washington. In today's Chicago Tribune, Sam Smith threw the possibility out there (via an unnamed GM) that the Wiz are a "dark horse" candidate to land Kobe. Of course, any Wiz package would have to include Gilbert Arenas. And that's a big problem.

Ernie Grunfeld shot down any possibility of a Kobe/Gilbert swap when I talked to him earlier this evening.
"I don't normally comment on rumors but there is no truth to this rumor," Grunfeld said. "We've never had any conversations with the Lakers or with anyone else about Gilbert."

I heard the same from other folks with knowledge of the situation so I really don't know what to make of Sam's speculation or similar speculation via Marc Stein at Now, in terms of Sam, I'll say this: my man Sam had Kevin Garnett traded to the Bulls around 1,500 times over the last few years. I think he had Iverson moved nearly half as often. That's Sam's job: talk to folks around the league and throw out possible trade situations when he hears them. As any reporter will tell you, there are 5,000 "source" rumors for every trade that actually goes down. In the NBA, where many voices are whispering sweet nothings in many an ear, rumor is a way of life.

Here's why I don't see a Kobe/Wiz deal going down:

1. Kobe has a no-trade clause, a hefty trade kicker and it appears that his heart is set on Chicago. Now, if something floats out in the next few days that Kobe secretly loves the Redskins, has always wanted to visit Mount Vernon and really digs trips the Smithsonian when visiting the DC, you'll know that there something is to this rumor. Believe this: Kobe is driving all of this and we'll all know soon enough if he wants out of LA bad enough to step off the windy city and flirt with chocolate city. Until then, it's all talk. Now, if Kobe shows up to practice tomorrow wearing a Caron Butler jersey........

2. Would the Lakers really give up Kobe for a guy who is coming off of knee surgery and can opt out of his deal next summer? Where would that put them in a Western Conference that is top heavy with the Spurs, Suns, Mavs, Nuggets, Jazz and Rockets?

3. I would assume that if the Lakers are doing their jobs, they would demand Andray Blatche in any deal involving Kobe and that isn't going to happen, not based on the things Blatche showed in preseason. You don't trade 6-11, 260-pound 21-year olds with that skill set and a five-year contract that is only running you $15 million.
Not in a conference that has LeBron, Luol Deng, Rasheed, KG, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith and assorted other matchup nightmares lurking in every corner. If Blatche reaches his potential, he gives you a five-tool almost 7-footer who is just scratching the surface. Hard to trade that, even for Kobe.

Now, as we all know, things can change and that's why the first three months of this season are going to be so interesting. By February, the Wizards should have a feel for where Gilbert is on that knee and have a feel for how the rotation is coming together. If Gilbert does his thing and the big three stay healthy and Blatche continues to come along, the Wiz should be one of the top two or three teams in the East and there would be no reason to blow it all up by trying to land Kobe. Also, we'll know just how hungry Kobe is to go somewhere.

My educated guess is that the Lakers will sit back, see how Kobe reacts early in the season and evaluate their options come February. I do have a feeling that it's going to kill him watching KG play with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Thing is, KG was put into prison by Kevin McHale while Kobe pretty much did it to himself.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 29, 2007; 9:09 PM ET
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