Special thanks to Justin Page for writing this take and giving us the privilege to add it to TheLakersNation.com. Again, if you write anything Lakers related and you think that it deserves to be put TLN please e-mail us at articles@TheLakersNation.com.

Kobe Bryant is a lot of things; competitive, determined, passionate, hardworking, mentally tough, and he plays with the heart of a lion. He’s also immature, dramatic, arrogant, selfish, and lacks loyalty; just to name a few. But most importantly, he’s the Lakers best chance to win a championship.

There were a ton of questions heading into the 2007-2008 season, but Kobe has already answered the biggest on-court question surrounding him. Will he put his heart and soul into this team? He has answered that with a definitive yes.

Now the ball is in owner Jerry Buss’ court. Will Kobe remain a Laker? And for how long? A lot of things factor into how Buss is feeling right now, but make no mistake about it; Jerry Buss is hurt by his star player’s comments this past off-season. Buss has stuck by Bryant through the hardest of times on the court (problems with Shaquille O’Neal) and off the court (legal problems in Colorado), and he’s paying him over $19 million this year, so he has every right to feel betrayed by a son-like figure who he has supported for the past 12 years.

Fortunately this isn’t Match.com or E-Harmony; this is basketball. And the owner and star player don’t have to be on good terms in order to win basketball games.

That is why the Lakers need to come out and say they won’t be trading Kobe Bryant. Not now, not ever. And if that’s a little white lie and they still want to listen to offers as it nears the date of his 2009 opt-out clause, that’s fine, just do it behind closed doors.

Of course this strategy involves risk. What if Kobe opts-out in 2009 and the Lakers get nothing in return for him? The following is an excerpt from what ESPN’s Chris Broussard had to say about this particular topic. He points out that Kobe leaving without the Lakers getting anything in return might not be the worst scenario in the world…

“It’s not like a lot of teams will have the cap room to sign Kobe for $20 million plus per year, certainly not many good teams that are ready to compete for a championship.

Obviously, he’s a great talent, but rather than get chumped in a sign-and-trade deal, why not just let his $21 million roll off their payroll? Lamar Odom’s contract will end that year as well, giving the Lakers plenty of cap room to work with.

Remember, LeBron will be able to opt-out of his deal the year after that in 2010. If Cleveland can’t put the right pieces around him, who’s to say LeBron won’t be ready to go rejuvenate the Lakers.”

We all know that Buss is an avid poker player, so my message to Buss is to stop all of this non-sense and go “all-in.” And if Bryant comes out and says he’ll enact his opt-out clause, then call him on it (not literally Jerry, keep your mouth shut please).

Two years from now is long time in basketball years, and there are a ton of unknowns: Will Kobe at 31 years-old really want to start all over with a new team? Will the young Lakers be a contender? Will Andrew Bynum mature into a consistent, powerful player? And I would think the Lakers would make a splash in the free-agent market in one of the next two years (Jermaine O’Neal and Gilbert Arenas might be pipe dreams at this point, but both have said they will opt-out after this season).

Buss went all-in with Kobe when he was a free agent back in 2004. It’s time to do it again.

(Author’s Note: ESPN’s Ric Bucher was tapping me incessantly on the shoulder while I was writing this article, repeating over and over “Kobe wants out, Kobe wants out, Kobe wants out.”)

  • Michael_23

    Old news … Of course this is coming after a Laker loss last night in S.A.

  • JoJoEnglish94Bulls4ever

    Kobe is a whore.

  • r3dempti0n

    The word “duh” comes to mind. We’ve heard and known everything stated in this article.

  • drake hunter

    Get the man some help already!

  • KingoftheCourt24

    well written. put the haterade away. with all of the trade talk on espn, i haven’t heard many experts comment on taking a risk like that.

  • ab4sure

    We will give kobe what he wants, but kobe has to approve of the trade first. Kobe…your move!!!

  • old school laker

    Good piece I like the idea!

  • PHANTOM

    Kobe is being real smart about this expecially if the lakers start losing alot. He knows he put the FO in a bad situation and will have to take 20 cents on the dollar like they did with shaq.

  • ab4sure

    They lakers won’t take 20 cents. They will take two years of service, let kobe go if he wants and have enough cap space to welcome Lebron off the plane at LAX. Kobe will be on the downside of his career and will have to settle for 5 million instead of 27 million. Right… Smart move kobe…

  • PHANTOM

    [Comment ID #17064 Will Be Quoted Here]

    why did they take it with shaq then? The lakers FO are known to do it…

  • Yoni-Laka4life

    What happened to fattys pre game predictions?

  • ab4sure

    had to trade shaq in order to sign kobe. kobe was a FA.

  • DCLAKER

    O’NEAL(JERMAINE) is the key of opportunity for this franchise to even be considered contenders.Kobe is not on the downside if anything he’s on the way up utilizing more of his defense than his offense(did anybody see FIBA,C”MON).The trio of LO/KB/JO is what LA needs now.I’m from Washington and my Wizards(my 2nd fav.team)aren’t going to make any noise even with the young team they have,at least the Lakers would have a bench even if you got rid of Bynum(he’s too young and definately not focused on championships).If Jerry West was there he would been PULLED the TRIGGER and Lakers fans know it.

  • steve

    Next please….Thankyou

  • 24allup inya

    I just want to know why the f-u-c-k is stupid a$$ Lamar shooting 3’s??? that makes me furious!i also would like to add that i really hate Bill Walton!!!With a passion!!!

  • 24allup inya

    Dont get me wrong im still happy with the win, GO LAKERS!!!

  • mplakers

    did anyone see bynum yelling at phil when he got benched after an airball with time running down…then when mihm was facialized by a bonzi wells layup…bynum jumped out of the bench and yelled something like,” I FFFF—IIIINNNNGGG TOLD YOU, I TOLD YOU!!!!!!!”

    bad and good …shows fire but, he’s trying to show up a hall of fame coach and although he’s on the rise he’s still a 20 year old kid who hasn’t accomplished much yet…he needs to respect phil more.

  • 24allup inya

    [Comment ID #17095 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Wow i did’nt catch that, well maybe thats do to the frustration of Phil not playing Bynum enough minutes i would like to see Phil give Bynum the opportunity of fouling out.When he put Mhim in i seriously thought that Phil threw in the towel.I thank god that he took him right back out.Thanks for sharing!!!

  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #17095 Will Be Quoted Here]

    please find out more info on this if you can..

  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #17095 Will Be Quoted Here]

    please find out more info on this if you can.. I think you might have misread this