Not even one week ago, it looked like the Lakers were going to acquire Chris Paul, giving Bryant the best teammate he's ever had, with the exception of Shaquille O'Neal. That trade was vetoed and now, Chris Paul is on the Clippers.
Now, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is speculating that Bryant will ask for a trade from the Lakers.
"I predicted that Kobe Bryant will demand a trade, and I am not budging from that. He’s livid. I’ve known Kobe too long. He is ticked off...It’s not just because [the Clippers] got Chris Paul, which is a guy that he expected to have. It’s because Jim Buss seems to be doing the inexplicable. It makes no sense.
It’s one thing for the team not to have improved [after losing to the Mavericks], it’s another thing entirely for them to regress. If you know anything about Kobe, that is the last thing that he wants to do...It will not be pleasant at all."
As hard as it is to imagine Bryant playing for any other team, both Bryant and the Lakers should actually give this some thought.
Look at the Lakers' core group of players:
Metta World Peace (Ron Artest)
The youngest player on that list has dealt with injuries for his entire career. Remember, that group no longer includes Lamar Odom, who is now on the very team that swept the Lakers a season ago.
The pieces just aren't there to get a big-name player to complement Bryant. A team that was already too old and thin is not going to get any better a year later without one of its key cogs.
It does Bryant no good to finish his career playing for a team that's not going to seriously contend for a championship. He's already done that. When the Lakers lost Shaquille O'Neal in 2004, they were nothing more than a Western Conference afterthought until 2008.
From the Lakers' perspective, they have a real chance to give themselves a bright future, which they don't have right now. There's no telling how many teams would make gaudy bids on Kobe.
He would help out any team struggling to sell out games. Any team that needs a strong scorer to get to the playoffs or win in the playoffs would obviously pay a fortune to get Bryant.
That would enable the Lakers to get younger and deeper, which they need to do.
As things stand now, Bryant doesn't do the Lakers any good, and they don't do him any good.
This franchise is about winning championships, and they aren't close. With five NBA titles, Bryant has nothing left to prove. He's going to the Hall of Fame and is already one of the best players of all time.
It does him no good to be a part of a rebuilding project that won't get beyond the first round of the playoffs in a great season.
Bryant has every reason to ask for a trade. The Lakers have every reason to grant it.