Mike Bresnahan interviews a very candid Jerry Buss in today's LA Times. The Lakers owner admitted exploring the possibility of accommodating Kobe Bryant's pseudo-trade request in the offseason, but that no offer was close to good enough. He even claims to have told Bryant about these trade offers.
Additionally, Buss openly discussed the team's failed efforts at trading for Kevin Garnett, talked vaguely about other trade possibilities that arose in the offseason, expressed hope that Phil Jackson will stay as coach beyond this season, and once again stated his intention to ultimately give the team to his son Jim and daughter Jeanie.
This article underscores just how difficult it is to make anything big happen in the NBA today. The rules of the game have changed. There's a salary cap, a luxury tax, maximum player salaries, and rules that prevent uneven salary balances in trades. In today's NBA, teams win by drafting brilliantly, scouting internationally, developing young players quickly, and getting a little bit of luck. Relying on trades and free agency may be a quick fix, but has a lower probability of being a success or becoming a reality. The Lakers' inability to get another "big piece" to complement Bryant isn't due to lack of skill or effort. As Buss points out, it has as much to do with circumstances as anything. Since few teams are willing to send their all-star players to Los Angeles, the Lakers will need to be innovative to win with Bryant in the near-future.