Saturday , Jun , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Report: Bryant meets with Buss, still wants to be traded

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant reportedly met with Los
Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss in Barcelona, Spain on Friday and reiterated
his demand to be traded.

The Los Angeles Times cited unnamed sources, who said that Buss asked Bryant
to be patient and told him the organization remains focused on winning.
Bryant, in turn, continued to question the overall direction of the franchise
and reaffirmed his demand to be traded.

Team sources still insist that there are no plans to trade the 28-year-old
Bryant, and remain optimistic the situation can be resolved.

Bryant, a nine-time All-Star, still has four years and nearly $89 million left
on a seven-year contract he signed in 2004, but has butted heads with Los
Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak over the inability to garner more talent
for the franchise.

The Lakers have not won a playoff series since trading Shaquille O’Neal in
July of 2004 and were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in just five games this
season. Then, on May 30, Bryant voiced his displeasure about the team’s
struggles in an interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio, saying the
Lakers, “obviously want to move in a different direction in terms of
rebuilding.” Later in the afternoon, on the same network, Bryant backed off
that statement and said he wanted to remain a Laker for the duration of his
NBA career.

Buss’ only comments came in the form of a statement issued two weeks ago in
which he said, “We will continue to pursue every avenue possible to improve
our team with (Bryant) as the cornerstone.”

Bryant was vacationing in Spain, while it remains unclear if Buss went there
specifically to speak with the embattled superstar.