Kobe Bryant Seeks Trade From L.A. Lakers

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By JOHN NADEL
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 2:33 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant asked to be traded from the Lakers on Wednesday, a day after calling the team's front office "a mess." He said there was nothing the Lakers could do to change his mind.

"I would like to be traded, yeah," Bryant told ESPN radio. "Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there's no other alternative. It's rough man, but I don't see how you can rebuild that trust. I just don't know how you can move forward in that type of situation."

Bryant, who helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA championships, has four years left on the seven-year, $136.4 million contract he signed July 15, 2004. That was a day after Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.

Bryant became infuriated Tuesday when a Los Angeles Times columnist quoted what he called a Lakers insider as saying it was Bryant's insistence on getting away from O'Neal that prompted the trade to Miami.

Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer the past two seasons, said he spoke with Phil Jackson on Tuesday, and the coach told him he was being let go because the Lakers were committed to reducing payroll and rebuilding long term.

"They said nothing to me about a long-term plan _ absolutely nothing," Bryant told KLAC radio, the Lakers' flagship station. "They told Phil one thing and they told me another. Actions speak louder than words."

"It's a trust thing," he added. "They're in a long-term plan that I had no idea about."

The Lakers and Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, did not immediately respond to messages left by The Associated Press.

Bryant, an 11-year veteran who turns 29 in August, urged the team at season's end to do what it takes to get back into contention. He essentially repeated those comments last weekend in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

On Sunday, he suggested former Lakers general manager Jerry West should return. West left the team in the summer of 2000 and was succeeded by current GM Mitch Kupchak.

West, an employee of the Lakers for about 40 years as a player, coach and executive, is under contract as the Memphis Grizzlies' president until July 1. He turned 69 this week and has remained a close friend of Kupchak's. West has said he has "no plans to seek employment with any other organization."

It was West who brought Bryant to the Lakers, trading center Vlade Divac to Charlotte in the summer of 1996 for the rights to Bryant _ the 13th pick in the NBA draft. Bryant was only 17 at the time.


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