Historically, the Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant leading the way, had been one of the dominant basketball teams in the NBA. However, the team's 1-5 dismal performance so far this season has left the possibility open that Bryant and the Lakers could go their separate ways.
Although the speculation of where he will be traded next may seem like a remote possibility, Bryant, 36, told USA Today that he still remains loyal to the Lakers despite the temptation to switch teams.
"It's not going to happen," Bryant said. "It's not going to happen. You go through the good times, you've got to go through the bad times."
Bryant later told USA Today that he had a "no-trade clause" in his contract. He then noted that the Lakers' management isn't "sending me anywhere."
However, Sam Smith, in an NBA.com column, contends that Bryant will be traded to the New York Knicks regardless of what the famous basketball player thought about it.
"I still cannot see Kobe riding it out for two more years in L.A. no matter what he says," Smith wrote. "They could get a little better next summer adding a free agent, but this is just the start of a long rebuilding process."
According to an article in Latino Post, Bryant has shot 45.3 percent from the field and has averaged 25.5 points per game in 19 seasons. However, the article also noted that the Laker champ is "suffering from lackluster stats in field goals."
NBA writer Matt Moore argues in a CBS Sports column that trading Bryant to the Knicks makes no sense. Although that move would reunite Bryant with iconic NBA coach Phil Jackson and send Amar'e Stoudemire to Los Angeles, there are realities standing in the way of that possibility.
"First, you have to find the value in trading for Stoudemire," Moore wrote. "It puts the Lakers into better cap position early, but cap room isn't their problem."
Moore then added that Bryant might plan to retire after two more seasons, given that his contract is about to end in a year. The columnist also noted that keeping Bryant in the Lakers makes business sense because he is "a cash cow" that can "hold up the weight," which include attracting sponsors, lucrative TV deals and selling merchandise.
The Lakers are now considered the underdogs this season according to USA Today, and Bryant will have to find some rhythm with Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and the entire Lakers team. Despite the speculation, Bryant thinks that he will find a way to make it work for better or worse, emphasizing his loyalty to the Lakers.
"I'm so loyal to this organization, there's not a chance (of him leaving)," Bryant told USA Today. "I've been really fortunate to win a lot of games here, a lot of championships here."