The relationship between Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers has come to a head and it’s possible that Bryant may not even start the season with the only franchise he’s played for during his 11 years in the league.
After the Lakers were eliminated from the first round of the NBA playoffs in May, Bryant went on a public tirade castigating the Lakers management for not upgrading the talent on the team and saying that he didn’t want to be a player for the organization anymore.
He then followed up on his threats when he reportedly told Lakers team owner Dr. Jerry Buss that he wanted to be traded after the owner had backed him throughout his rape accusation ordeal in Colorado and in his ongoing feud with former Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal.
Buss sided with his young star instead of extending the contract of O’Neal and traded him to the Miami Heat.
Meanwhile, Bryant kept the Lakers organization dangling as he considered signing a free agent contract with the Clippers instead of resigning with the Lakers. Bryant ultimately accepted a $132 million seven-year deal from the Lakers, but the team has not advanced beyond the first round since.
Last week, Buss said for the first time that he would listen to trade offers for Bryant who refused comment to his owner’s public statements until Tuesday Oct. 16.
That’s when Bryant was accused of cleaning out his locker at the team’s El Segundo training facility.
Asked if he had played his final game as a Laker, Bryant said, “I don’t know, talk to Mitch and Mr. Buss about that. I’m just getting ready. If I’m here I’m ready to strap it up.”
The situation with Bryant and the team apparently went sour when he reportedly called Buss “an idiot” and he has not practiced with the team for the past several days reportedly because of sore legs.
Head coach Phil Jackson said that he did not know if Bryant would accompany the team to Seattle on Thursday Oct. 18 or whether he would play or not. Most injured players do travel with the team regardless of injury.
Basketball sources told the Sentinel that the Dallas Mavericks could trade guard Jason Terry and star swingman Josh Howard for Bryant along with draft picks.
The Phoenix Suns are also another possibility, but this much is clear: the Lakers will part ways with their league’s leading scorer sooner than later.