Wednesday , May , 30 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Kobe Bryant Backs Off Trade Demands, Wants to Retire A Los Angeles Laker

In one day, Kobe Bryant requested a trade and then backed off his demands, saying he wants to remain a Laker for life … What does all this mean? … Will the Lakers and Bryant actually be able to move forward?

This morning, Kobe Bryant wanted the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him. And this afternoon, he wanted to retire with the .

Yes, another confusing day of drama on the set of “As The Lakers Turn.” Here’s a recap of what went down.

Early this morning, Kobe Bryant went on Stephen A. Smith’s morning show and, believing he had been misled by the Lakers, demanded a trade.

“I would like to be traded, yeah,” the guard said. “Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there’s no other alternative, you know?”

Then, he picked up the phone and called Phil Jackson. The Zen-master worked his, well, Zen on Bryant and two hours later the guard sang a completely different tune when appearing on Dan Patrick’s afternoon radio show.

"I don’t want to go anywhere, this is my team," he said. "I love it here. I called Phil, man, he and I talked, it was an emotional conversation, but he just said, ‘You know what, Kobe? Let us try to figure this thing out."

Say what?

It’s hard to know what’s actually going on with the Lakers. Accusations are flying. Players are insulting owners. Phil Jackson’s forced to assume the unlikely role of peace-maker, making mysterious phone calls in the middle of the afternoon.  And Shaq, chilling in The MIA, weighed in on the action, supporting his former nemesis turned friend, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what I make of this saga:

The Lakers need direction. Things are a mess. The player who matters most, Kobe Bryant, doesn’t respect current GM Mitch Kupchack. And I don’t think hiring Jerry West as a consultant or part-time guru solves anything.

They need a new front office voice. They need a guy with the credibility to lead and make decisions. I’m thinking of a Bryan Colangelo type of executive who commands respect.

An option may be Kiki Vandeweghe. He’s young enough to relate to the players. And he’s also extremely bright. Vandeweghe is also wily enough to navigate through the politics of Los Angeles’ front office.

Second, have the Lakers and Bryant passed the point of no return? Will the Lakers truly be able to forget Bryant’s outbursts over the last few days? Will Bryant really forgive the Lakers for fingering him as the culprit who broke up their dynasty?

There’s bound to be hard feelings on both sides. And keep in mind Los Angeles lacks cap space and trade-able assets. After a few losses, Bryant could start complaining and then there’s another code-red situation like the last few days.

Bryant and the Lakers have agreed to talk things out. Don’t think they’ve solved their problems. They have to consider going their separate ways.

Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA blog.