Los Angeles Lakers: Why Now Is the Time to Trade Kobe Bryant

Hayden KimCorrespondent IIIMarch 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the closing seconds of the Lakers106-101 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on March 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

What has happened to the Lakers organization in the span of a year? 

Just last year, with the Lakers looking formidable with one of the better teams in the West and with Coach Jackson and Kobe leading the way as usual, a championship wasn't out of the question.

But after being swept by the eventual NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks, the Jim Buss monarchy began, and let me tell you, it's been nothing but downhill from there.  

The Lakers are currently sitting at fifth place in the Western Conference behind the once laughable Los Angeles Clippers and are coming off a loss to arguably the worst team in the league, the Washington Wizards, after being up 20 points at one point.

Never have the Lakers looked so bad, at least not unless you go back to the Smush Parker era, which Lakers fans are still trying to erase from their memories.  

For once the Lakers don't look to be in the race for a title run, and it's also the first time it has made sense to make a move to trade one of the most iconic Lakers to ever play, Kobe Bryant.

It may sound crazy to most of you, but there hasn't been a better time to trade Kobe than right now. He may be 33, approaching 34, but with the level of play that Kobe has continued to produce day-in-and-day-out, MVP talks have still been put alongside his name.

This is the sole reason why the Lakers need to trade Kobe before the March 25 deadline; Kobe still has a lot of value and there are more than enough teams that would be willing to make a move to get a top-five player in their lineup, especially teams that are one superstar away from winning a championship.

But why trade a top-five player, especially Kobe, who has been a Laker since the beginning, who has brought nothing but championships and respect to the Lakers organization?

Well, it's not because his stats aren't up to par; it's because Kobe simply is hurting the team in many ways by not passing the ball, by taking too many bad shots, and most of all, by limiting the team's potential to be a playoff contender in the West.

Yeah, that's right, Kobe is hurting this already struggling Lakers team, and it's honestly been going on for quite some time now. It's just showing up more recently due to Coach Brown's lack of offensive coaching.

Everyone has been discussing Pau Gasol's future as a Laker non-stop, and it doesn't make any sense. The Lakers' biggest problem has always been at the point guard position, and though the triangle offense under Coach Jackson did not require a prototypical point guard, it's totally relevant in Coach Brown's more conventional style of offense. And as the season has progressed, the need for a younger, more legitimate starting point guard has grown that much more.

It's quite idiotic that Kobe is aging and yet he continues to play as if he were 19 coming out of Lower Marion High School, when he could relax, sit back, and dump the ball down low to the best post duo in the NBA in Bynum and Gasol.

Kobe may be averaging 28.7 points per game, but the Lakers aren't anywhere near where they need to be and, in all fairness, you can't put all the blame on the bench. When your best player refuses to pass the ball and would rather shoot 30 times to try and shoot his way back into the game, it's time to put the blame on the future Hall Of Famer, not on players who won't be remembered 10 years from now.

There is one problem, of course, when discussing the possibility of trading the one and only player with the no trade clause, and that is that the decision ultimately comes down to Kobe himself. Nobody knows what Kobe would decide to do if he were indeed offered the chance to leave.

It may already be too late for the Lakers to turn it around this year to contend for a championship, but improving the team for the future is certainly open to the organization if they wish to pursue the opportunity.

Trading the best post duo in the NBA will not solve the problem, but trading an aging superstar will. Kobe may be our favorite Laker, but no one wants to see him end his career like Allen Iverson, ball hogging away the last years of his career.

Mitch Kupchak, please do us all a favor and trade Kobe before this situation gets any worse and find a starting point guard, shooting guard, and a solid bench player so that the Lakers can stop this talk of Los Angeles being "Lob City."

Sometimes drastic measures call for drastic decisions and Kobe may be the answer for the Lakers problems, just not in the purple and gold. Laker fans, think this one over and ask yourselves: Is it really a good idea to keep Kobe in this type of situation when his career is slowing down, or are you ready to begin a new era in Lakers basketball?

Whatever you may say, one thing is for sure: Something needs to be done—and fast.