Kobe Bryant, of course, has one of the NBA's two bulletproof no-trade clauses (Dirk Nowitzki has the other). For the Los Angeles Lakers to ever make a deal involving their franchise face, they would need for said face to nod.
So I will broaden this discussion by bringing up whether or not Kobe should be amnestied—a one-time move that would clear Bryant's salary off the books, while ensuring that another team gets him.
It's a trade in the form of a salary dump. Kobe may have a no-trade clause, but he can't prevent an amnesty.
The majority of Laker fans would be against such an action, and there is some logic to their position.
While Bryant makes roughly $30 million in the 2013-2014 season, scraping his deal off the books won't automatically free up Los Angeles.
The Lakers are so far over the cap that nixing Kobe's deal only opens up a little less than $10 million in space for a free-agent signing. Simply put, that's not enough to sign a guy like Deron Williams.
There is little point to amnestying Kobe if that's your only roster subtraction. Now, if you want to amnesty Bryant and trade Pau Gasol, we could be getting somewhere.
Gasol makes roughly $19 million per year and is best suited to the same position as Andrew Bynum, L.A.'s mercurial, talented, 24-year-old center. For Los Angeles to best optimize its roster, it will need to choose.
If Los Angeles were to pair a Kobe amnesty with a shrewd Gasol or Bynum trade, then the aforementioned amnesty would be wise. The Lakers could sign, say, Chris Paul in the next offseason and build from there.
But a Kobe amnesty by itself would just waste the goodwill of Bryant and his many fans. It's a move that requires a counter move, plus a few backup plans.
I am not among those who think sentiment should dictate whether or not Los Angeles axes Kobe's contract. I also don't buy the vague talk of how he makes so much peripheral money for this franchise.
The goal should be to get better on the court, and if that means doing it without Kobe, then by all means try.
Fans support winners, and they'll be happier with a contending Laker team than a Kobe-led eighth seed in 2013. It's just a decision that would have to be executed quite boldly and carefully.