Kobe Bryant has proven that he can handle distractions off the court and still perform at a high level, and while he's still one of the NBA's best, the Lakers need to trade him immediately to ensure that they don't fall off the face of the earth when he retires.
His recent divorce from Vanessa Bryant makes this the perfect time for Kobe to change scenery. The Clippers are taking over LA, the Lakers struck out on bringing in both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard—and lost Lamar Odom in the process—and Kobe's window to win a championship with the Lakers has closed.
He's a great trading piece and the move would be just as good for Kobe as it would be for the Lakers. He's riding a sinking ship and the change of scenery would allow the Lakers to stay afloat.
All of this jabber about the Lakers shafting Kobe after he was so instrumental to their success or Bryant ditching the team that allowed him to become one of the greatest players in the history of the league is nonsensical.
This is a move that benefits both sides. Bryant is one of the greatest Lakers of all time and both sides are undoubtedly grateful for all they have provided one another, but at this point it's better if the Black Mamba puts himself in a position to win and the Lakers in a position to win in the future.
Think Pau Gasol is the type of talent that could really bring in some talented young pieces? Teams would be coming out of the woodwork for a shot at obtaining Kobe's services for the remaining years he's got in him.
Surrounding Bryant with a guy like Howard or Paul that would help them win now and build for the future would have been ideal, but as we saw with David Stern's inexplicable Paul to LA veto, it's going to be nearly impossible for the Lakers to try to win a championship with Kobe and ensure their franchise doesn't fall off the map once he retires.
Having their cake and eating it too would be ideal for the Lakers, but it's not in the cards. It's time for the Lakers to trade Kobe and give both parties the best chance to succeed.