Kobe Bryant Divorce: Why LA Lakers Must Trade Black Mamba Immediately

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 17, 2011

EL SEGUNDO, CA - DECEMBER 11:  Kobe Bryant #24 talks with the media during Los Angeles Lakers Media Day at Toyota Sports Center on December 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Go ahead and add to the list of distractions surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

With news of Vanessa and Kobe Bryant's divorce, the bad spring continues to get worse for LA fans. 

Now, you might be thinking, This really has nothing to do with basketball. I couldn't care less, and I might tend to agree.

But look what's happened to the Lakers this offseason. They traded Lamar Odom for a whole lot of nothing in return, and ended up replacing him with Josh McRoberts.


There was the whole Chris Paul fiasco, and that was only worsened when Paul went to the Clippers and made them arguably the best team in Los Angeles.

The Lakers are on a downward spiral, and Kobe's divorce could very well be the last straw. 

But should management seriously overreact and trade possibly the greatest Laker of all time? Or is that just one of the craziest ideas since McDonald's got rid of the McRib? 

I'm almost inclined to go with the latter (I do love the McRib), but there are certainly reasons pointing towards why a Kobe trade makes sense.

Hear me out.

First of all, contention.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Josh McRoberts #32 of the Indiana Pacers on March 2, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-99.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Lakers were embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs last year. Now, I ask you this: what's different this year?

We've already discussed how LA's sixth man has gone from Odom to McRoberts. They still have the same mess at point guard, although Andrew Goudelock or Darius Morris have sleeper potential this season. And Metta World Peace may have changed his name, but he's not getting any younger.

A core of Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum is great, but the lack of depth and point-guard play prevents this team from being a title contender.

Especially with so many teams around them getting better. 

Of course, a Dwight Howard trade changes everything, but the odds of that are looking less and less likely as time goes on.

So assume the Lakers are out of contention this year. That leaves two more years of Bryant before his contract is up. He'll have an insane 16 years of experience under his belt by next season, and he'll be making an even more insane $28 million. 

Even though he'll only be 34, you have to think he starts slowing down at some point. If not next year, then in 2013-14, when his salary is up to $30(!) million. 

Will Bryant really be worth it at that point? Probably not. At some time, the Lakers have to start looking towards the future with a realistic point of view.

If they were to trade their superstar now, the package would be huge. Without really knowing what the market for Bryant is, something like Monta Ellis and multiple first-round picks might make sense. 

Whatever it is, I'm sure they could get more for three guaranteed years of Kobe than the Hornets got for Paul. 

The draft next year is going to be seriously loaded with potential All-Stars. A trade, if executed correctly, would bring the Lakers even further from contention this year, but it would give them a huge upgrade in the next year or two.

It might sound crazy at first, but the Los Angeles Lakers have to seriously start considering the fact that trading Bryant would make them a much better team in the near future.

At this point, as they continue to decline, why not?