Saturday, August 11, 2012

Q & A with Kobe Bryant on Dwight Howard Trade

After the U.S. men's basketball team defeated Argentina 109-83 in a semifinal game Friday in the Olympics, All-Star Kobe Bryant discussed the deal that sent center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The trade, along with the Steve Nash deal in free agency, elevates the Lakers to a championship contender after losing to the Western Conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in five games in the conference semifinals. The four-team deal sent center Andrew Bynum from the Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Asked how he felt about the trade that might alter the Thunder's plan of Western Conference dominance for the next few seasons, All-Star forward Kevin Durant said, "I really don't care."

He might not care now, in the midst of trying to win a gold medal. But he will care — soon.

Here is Bryant in his words on the Howard trade:

On the Lakers' ability to land another star

"History speaks for itself. Just certain franchises seem to make all the right decisions and make smart business moves. The credit really goes to management (general manager Mitch Kupchak). You're talking about a franchise that shipped Lamar (Odom) out, the CP (Chris Paul) trade fell through, which would have been a great deal for us financially and basketball-wise and all of a sudden that gets pulled from underneath us, and they regroup and they come up with something that's even better. It's impressive."

Did LeBron James or Durant say anything to Bryant?

"They didn't say too much to me."

Are they mad at Bryant and the Lakers?

" I've heard that they are. We haven't had those conversations. We had a little game to think about tonight."

Are the Lakers a championship team now?

"Absolutely. We would have been a championship (caliber) team with Andrew. Add Dwight into the mix, along with Steve and Antawn (Jamison) coming off the bench. I'm sure they'll make a couple of tweaks to thicken the bench a little bit."

No exchanges with LeBron James of defending champion Miami Heat?


Did you talk to Dwight?

"I have. I talked to him this morning. I'm not sure what time that is in Los Angeles. I spoke to him. He gave me a call. He was happy to find a home. I told him Los Angeles is the perfect place for him. If you look at history and all the great centers who have come to L.A., now he's the next in line. He couldn't be in a better position than to be with this type of organization. I'm really excited for him and just excited too."

Does Dwight have a future with Lakers?

"I'll probably play two, three more years. You know what I'm saying, (and then) the team is his. I'm excited for the Lakers franchise, because they have a player who can carry the franchise after I'm gone. This should be his, and he should be willing to accept that challenge."

What did Kobe think when he heard the news?

"I was very excited. It's one of those things where you hear it and you have got to let it go, because it changes every two minutes. Once I got the word it was confirmed, obviously, my mentality switched from excitement to execution and how we're going to do it."

How will Howard's game work with the Lakers?

"He's not going to have to sacrifice much. He just comes out and does what he does. He'll get more touches here than he did in Orlando, which sounds weird to say, but it's true. We do a great job playing through the low post and playing through him and playing through Pau (Gasol). It's going to be sensational."

On Howard's defense

"You can really funnel a lot of things into him. It gives you the ability to play passing lanes a lot more. Be a little more aggressive in the passing lines. He's not the kind of big who gets into foul trouble. It's going to be big. … He does a great job keeping the ball in play."

On Dwight being a star with the Lakers

"The simple fact is we'll play through him a lot. I think he'll be a lot more at ease because he's surrounded by better talent and he'll get a lot more easy opportunities playing with Steve, Pau, myself. His life will be a lot easier."

On how the Lakers compare to the Heat

"I don't know. We're obviously bigger, but there's different ways to skin a cat and they do a great job with their shooters and penetration and knocking down perimeter shots, which got them a championship last year."

On competing with Durant and Oklahoma City

"We joked around a little bit about it during the summer. The consensus was that there is no way we can get Dwight and still keep Pau, and they all love Pau for us. It was like, 'No way you're going to let Pau go, so therefore you can't get Dwight.' I was like, 'Well, I think we can make that happen.' "

On how at ease Bryant is now

"It helps because you're starting to get into a frame of mind of knowing what your team is going to look like and then you can prepare yourself for how the season is going to shake out, how you're going to execute certain things and visualizing how things are going to work as opposed to going into training camp with question marks."

On Sunday's gold medal game against Pau Gasol and Spain

"It's going to be problem on Sunday regardless. Pau's a problem, period. But I talked to him last night, as well, and notified him about the trade as well. He was excited, too."

Did Pau talk to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak?

"I spoke to Mitch last night, too."

On how he stays focused after being dealt with the news

"You just focus on the game, and obviously you take the news. The first thing I did was call Pau and let him know what was going on. Then I shifted my focus, and he shifted his focus right back to what we had to do (F riday)."

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