Kobe Bryant's Loyalty to Pau Gasol Ensures L.A. Lakers' Big Won't Be Traded

Richard LeContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Pau Gasol #16 talk during a 79-77 Indiana Pacers win at Staples Center on November 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

There is no doubt that Pau Gasol's biggest fan in Los Angeles is Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba's loyalty alone should keep Gasol's status as a Laker safe.

It is irrefutable fact that Bryant would not have won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers if it weren't for Gasol.

Not only were Gasol's contributions in the post and as a passing big man instrumental in winning back-to-back titles, his timely arrival in Los Angeles saved Bryant from forcing his way out.

In a league where greatness is measured in championships, Bryant's allegiance to Gasol is mainly attributed to the fact that the big man helped him match and ultimately surpass Shaquille O'Neal in championships.

Furthermore, Gasol and Bryant have a built a rapport, on and off the court, that has helped them establish one of the best tandems in the modern era. 

However, for the first time in his tenure as a Laker, Gasol's worth and skills are being questioned by fans and critics alike. 

Although he has been putting up some decent numbers during the Lakers' recent surge back to .500, his recent injuries have mitigated his ability to cohesively integrate himself in Mike D'Antoni's offensive schemes.

Averaging a career low with 12.2 points on 41.2 percent shooting, Gasol has tried to make it up in other facets of his game by averaging the second highest assists per game of his career with 3.9.

He has also grabbed 8.5 rebounds per game despite Dwight Howard coming in and taking his share of the boards.

In retrospect, Gasol has been putting up decent numbers in a system that clearly does not match well with his skills while also battling a myriad of hindering injuries. 

Furthermore, Gasol is also has a +5.3 rating while he's on the court and is clearly still a positive contributor despite his inability to stretch the floor the way D'Antoni wants him to. 

Although his output clearly isn't up to his usual standards, the fact that he is still producing despite his injuries and the mitigating system should prevent the Lakers from pulling the trigger on a trade without some serious thought.

His production despite the poor circumstances he endures, as well as the Black Mamba's support, should keep him in Los Angeles long enough for him to find a way to seamlessly integrate himself on both ends of the court.

There is no doubt that frustrations are at a boiling point given the Lakers' overall struggles this season. 

However, there isn't a big man in the NBA with more all-around talent than Gasol.

His ability to pass from both the high post and the low post as well as his skills as a scorer in the paint make him an invaluable asset.

Furthermore, he does have a good mid-range jumper and can make excellent decisions out of the pick-and-roll. 

Bryant understands these skills, and his faith in Gasol and the pre-mentioned skill-set should keep Gasol in a Lakers uniform.