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Lakers Must Trade Kobe Bryant, Not Andrew Bynum, in Order to Compete

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks past Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 106-90 loss during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City Thunder win the series 4-1, and advance to the Western Conference Finals.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIMay 22, 2012

With the Lakers being bounced by the Thunder in the playoffs it saddens me to say this…

It is time for Kobe Bryant to move on.

I am not saying retirement. Not in the slightest. We keep hearing how the Lakers may want to dangle Andrew Bynum for the uber-talented center from the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard, but why should they? A talent such as Bynum is one that you keep in order to build around. He is under the age of 25 and will get better if he matures.

My theory behind Bynum’s lack of maturity has nothing to do with his age. I believe that it has to do with being stuck behind the large, looming shadow that is known as Kobe Bryant.

It is hard for a player’s game to grow while playing with one of the NBA’s top 10 players of all time. Kobe’s game hinges on dominating the basketball and taking the tough shots. Everyone knows that the fourth quarter is Kobe Bryant time. No matter how well Bynum plays, he will not get the touches in the late stretches of the game.

Bynum wants to become the best center in the NBA. He cannot become that player as long as Kobe is wearing the beloved purple and gold.

As for Kobe, he wants to match Michael Jordan in terms of championship rings. The Lakers are not the best team that can provide that ultimate goal.

It is too early to tell what team would make sense for Kobe with the only exceptions being the Bulls and 76ers. He is not afraid of playing in the house that M.J. built (Chicago) and he was raised in Philadelphia. The problem is that neither team has the assets to acquire him. I also believe that Mitch Kupchak will never come close to considering trading him.

The latter would be a mistake. Kobe turns 34 on August 23rd and he will not be the same player come next season. The Lakers have to get younger and more athletic in the offseason and eventually must rebuild.

There is no better way to begin that process than by the Lakers using their biggest trade chip that they have. They must consider trading Kobe Bryant.   

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