Lakers Trade Rumors: What Role Will Kobe Bryant Play in Lakers Deadline Deals?

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Lakers Trade Rumors: What Role Will Kobe Bryant Play in Lakers Deadline Deals?
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Kobe Bryant is without question the Lakers' biggest star.

Mitch Kupchak is the Lakers' General Manager. 

Jim Buss is in charge of player-personel. 

Those are generally thought of as the most important positions in the day-to-day operations of any sports franchise. 

The Los Angeles Lakers are not "any" sports franchise though and Kobe Bryant, who is the best player on the Lakers, is not just a run-of-the-mill star. He's a superstar and he's the most experienced superstar with the best stats and the most rings of any current star in the NBA

That puts him in a unique position as the trade deadline draws near. On the court the Lakers are Kobe's team. He's not the coach but he's the face of the franchise and he's the player who has the most control over how the Lakers win or lose in any basketball game. 

Off the court that type of on-court power sometimes translates to off-court influence. That might not be the case in Los Angeles though. 

Bryant has publicly called for Gasol to remain in Los Angeles.  

Jeff Golden/Getty Images
Lakers' general manager Mitch Kupchak was a target of some harsh words from Kobe last month.

"I talked to (Gasol) a little bit about it," Bryant said. "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they're going to do something, I wish they would just (expletive) do it. If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game - ESPN Los Angeles 2/19/12 

Yet on the day before the trade deadline and several weeks after Bryant's very clear statement Gasol remains at the forefront of numerous trade rumors.

That might not make Bryant or Gasol happy, but at this point it should not come as a shock. In the aftermath of Kobe's plea for control or at least input over the destiny of his teammates future general manager Mitch Kupchak issued this statement.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Bryant is not a general manager yet.

“As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player.  Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come.  To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage.  Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans." -CBS Sports 2/20/12

Kupchak basically was telling Kobe that as much as upper management values his opinion and appreciates his passion, Kobe needs to stick to his job and upper management needs to stick to theirs.

If the Lakers make a deal before tomorrow's trade deadline it seems unlikely that Kupchak or Buss will get Kobe on a conference call to go over the minutia of the proposal before pulling the trigger.

It might not be quite that simple though. Fans don't show up at Staples Center to see Kupchak, they don't pay big bucks for tickets to see the Buss family in their owners box and they don't shell out money for jerseys that say " Kupchak" on the back.

The upper management of the Lakers won't directly involve Kobe Bryant in the key decisions they make over the next 24 hours, but his opinion or what they think his opinion will be will still weigh heavily on their minds before they pull the trigger on a proposed deal.  

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