After last night’s 102-90 setback loss against the lowly Phoenix Suns, Kobe Bryant was not interested in the standard postgame rhetoric. With a Lakers squad that has seemingly plateaued since the failed Chris Paul trade back in December, Bryant’s attention was pointed directly at Lakers management, who since the trade have failed to acquire any substantial acquisitions while allowing Lamar Odom to dictate his terms into a trade out of Los Angeles.
Futhermore, Bryant’s ire was directed at Lakers management regarding the mishandling of the eventual destination of forward Pau Gasol, who at one time was included in the Chris Paul trade but for the past two months has been mentioned in trade talks with multiple clubs. Bryant’s opinion? Actions speak louder than words (from the OC Register):
I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ loss in Phoenix on Sunday night.
Bryant said his preference is the Lakers do not trade Gasol, citing the team’s “foundation” is in place with Bryant, Gasol and “the emergence of Andrew (Bynum).”
“Can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here….It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow.”
Gasol, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Phoenix, responded to Bryant’s words and the trade rumors that night as reporters caught up to him boarding the team bus (from ESPN Los Angeles):
“So, we got March 15th, the (trade) deadline. That’s what I’m thinking (about). Hopefully we get to that day (without a trade). Obviously if something was told to me before, it would be good, but I’m not trying to force things. I’m not trying to force a team, ‘If they want to trade me, trade me tomorrow.’ Because obviously I still believe in our team, I believe in our city and I believe that we can continue to be a special, special team and a successful team.”
Gasol, who missed his first NBA All-Star game since coming to Los Angeles four years ago, is averaging a career-low 16.6 points per game while shooting 49.6% from the field, the second lowest percentage of his career.