By BOB BAUM, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Kobe Bryant lashed out at Los Angeles Lakers management Sunday night for leaving teammate Pau Gasol wondering whether he's about to be traded.
In a postgame monologue punctuated by a couple of profanities, Bryant said the Lakers either need to trade Gasol or come out and say it won't happen.
Bryant's comments came in the aftermath of a 102-90 loss at Phoenix on Sunday night. He said he doesn't want Gasol to be traded but it's unfair for his teammate to try to play when he doesn't know if he'll be somewhere else the following day.
As Bryant put it: "If they're going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it."
"Listen, he's been the consummate professional," Bryant said. "He's going out and he's trying to do what he can. But let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block and you feel like you're just waiting, it's tough to put all yourself in the game."
Trade rumors about Gasol have circulated since the team thought it had shipped him to New Orleans in a three-team deal before the season that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. But NBA Commissioner David Stern blocked the trade.
"It's hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and stuff," Bryant said, bringing up the subject even though no one asked him about it. "It's hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would either come out and either trade him or not trade him."
Bryant said the Lakers have the foundation for another run at the NBA title with Gasol, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Phoenix.
"It obviously starts with myself and Pau and the emergency of Andrew (Bynum)," Bryant said, "but you can't have one of our pillars not knowing if he's going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something. If they trade him at least you have some type of closure, he gets some type of closure."
Bryant, as usual, was the last player to speak to reporters Sunday night. Gasol had already left after talking about the game but mentioning nothing about a potential trade.
"I talked to him a little bit about it," Bryant said. "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. So I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they were going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it. If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out and perform and he can play and he can invest all of himself in the game."
Bryant's comments come as the Lakers adjust to new coach Mike Brown in a lockout-shortened campaign after all their years of success under Phil Jackson, who retired after last season.
Bryant touched on that, too.
"It's a big challenge to fill those shoes, first of all," Bryant said, "and still trying to figure out our team and our personality, how we think. I mean that's tough to do in such a short schedule."
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