Thursday , May , 03 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Kobe Bryant Wants Changes, But What Can The Los Angeles Lakers Do?

Kobe Bryant demanded changes after the Lakers got bounced from the first round of the playoffs. But what are the Lakers’ options? … Can we believe the Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, and Jermaine O’Neal to L.A. rumors? … Or will Bryant continue to be stuck with sub-par teammates? …

The Take: arrived at the press conference in an all-business blazer. The Phoenix Suns had just bounced his Los Angeles Lakers from the playoffs in five short games.

Bryant looked bitter. Bryant looked frustrated. Bryant has had enough.

He’s had enough of carrying sub-par teammates. He’s had enough of waiting on . He’s had enough of unprofessional teammates injuring themselves snowboarding. He’s had enough of playing with Development League All-Stars.

And, most importantly, he’s had enough of mediocrity. He’s done with it.

All of this was clear before Bryant uttered a word or answered a question. Then he delivered a direct, all-business message to Lakers’ management.

"Do something and do it now," Bryant told the press. "Personally for me, it’s beyond frustration — three years and still being at ground zero. This summer’s a big summer. We have to see what direction we want to take as an organization and make those steps and make them now."

In other words, the present is more important than the future. After all, Bryant has an option on his contract and can become a free agent in 2009.

But, much to Kobe’s dismay, the purple-and-gold will be hard pressed to make any significant moves.

First off, they have no room under the salary cap. Los Angeles can only offer a free agent the mid-level exception, which currently sits at $5.5 million dollars. This doesn’t count for much. Last year, the mid-level exception landed the Lakers .

Second, Bynum’s stock has taken a significant dip. In February, his potential made him untouchable. The Lakers even refused to include Bynum in a trade for superstar Jason Kidd.

Think Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles’ GM, would like that trade back? Bynum could still be great, but he disappeared in the playoffs. Right now, his potential is worth far less and probably doesn’t land the Lakers J-Kidd.

Third, looks to be staying with the Wolves. Yes, The Big Ticket will likely sign another extension to continue playing in the basketball purgatory of Minnesota. I don’t see him heading to Hollywood.

, the long-time Pacer, is a possibility. But his body is breaking down and L.A. would probably have to give up Lamar Odom to acquire O’Neal.  Would the Lakers improve with this trade?

L.A. has one final option. They may have to roll the dice on a fading star with an expensive contract. If that’s their response to Bryant’s recent statement, then we’ll be re-visiting this issue again next year.

Except Kobe’s frustration will be greater and the stakes will be even higher for Laker-nation.

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