If the Lakers were going to make a run to the playoffs once Kobe Bryant returns from injury, Steve Blake would have played a key role. A quality outside shooter who competes defensively, Blake added to that roster.
Of course, the Lakers were never going to make the playoffs this season.
That’s why they traded Blake to the Warriors for salary relief and younger players. Smart general managers identify their position, even if it’s dismal, and react to it.
But Kobe Bryant isn’t a general manager. He’s a player who sees things differently, who views moves through the eyes of a competitor who never gives up.
This can be read a number of ways, and “Kobe’s mad” has been a popular interpretation. I don’t see it that way, though. I think this is just his way of expressing his respect for Blake.
The Lakers gave Kobe a generous extension, and while that doesn’t obligate him to agree with every move they make, I sense he’s willing to go along with the plan. The Lakers are doing this for Kobe. They’re better-positioning themselves to contend in the next two seasons.
Kobe will miss Blake, as he should. But the Lakers are better off, and I suspect Kobe knows that too – even if his 140-character goodbyes carry a conflictive tone.