Mar 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. The Jazz defeated the Lakers 103-99. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Kobe Bryant has played in more seasons, more games, and more minutes, and scored more points than any other player in Lakers franchise history. Would the Lakers even think of trading him one day?
The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be a franchise approaching a turning point; after dominating for years with guys like Shaquille O'Neal and Derek Fisher running the show along with Kobe Bryant, they are now gone due to age and/or a lack of ability. The Lakers have historically been a very successful franchise, but it may be time for some serious changes in the coming years if they hope to win another championship.
Most of the roster will be available for trade this offseason and beyond, but according to this latest report from ESPN, Bryant will never be traded and will remain in L.A. for the rest of his career:
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has a no-trade clause in his contract, and he won't have to worry about exercising it -- his team has no interest in trading him.
"I think about a lot of things to improve this team, to figure out how to manage the finances of it," said Lakers executive vice president of player personnel, Jim Buss, as a guest on the "Mason & Ireland Show" on 710 ESPN on Friday. "One thing I haven't thought of is Kobe being somewhere else. I don't know why that question has ever come up and I'd like to squish that one."
Bryant, 33, is under contract for two more seasons, but do not expect him to call it quits despite a long and illustrious career:
Buss, the son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, hinted that Bryant will not be retiring when his contract is through. When a caller suggested Bryant only had a short window remaining to try to capture his sixth NBA championship, Buss suggested Bryant could be around for a while longer.
"I might disagree with you that Kobe only has three or four years left, but we'll see," Buss said. "As you see, we make trades and our whole focus isn't to win a sixth (championship). I'm not sure I would stop there for Kobe; I would go to seven or eight if we can. ... I think Kobe is going to be a Laker for life and I'm pretty sure he's not going to hang them up after two years."
It would be tough to imagine the Lakers without Bryant in the backcourt, but it isn't exactly like he is getting any younger out there. L.A. will likely look to continue to improve their club and make one final title run along with Bryant, although it will not be easy given their iffy financial status.
For more on the Lakers and Bryant, be sure to check out Silver Screen and Roll.