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Played Out

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For the first time since 1994, the Lakers will miss the Playoffs. There is no way to spin this season other than calling it a disaster.Sure, Kobe was hurt, Rudy T bailed, and Odom got dinged up down the stretch, but there is no excuse for this team to miss the playoffs. This is the most embarrassing season in Lakers history.

Some have suggested recently that the Lakers problems could be solved by trading Kobe. LAist acknowledges that Kobe Bryant is a weird guy. This could be due all kinds of reasons. He's always been a social outsider, having spent much of his childhood in Italy, and maybe not going to college prevented him from living through some normal social experiences that many of us take for granted. When Kobe came to the NBA, he was younger than everyone else, and he just didn't fit in. He got married way too young, and clearly doesn't know how to conduct himself in personal relationships with most people on anything more than a superficial level.

But now Kobe is one of the most talented players in the game, and he's required to be a leader. And he needs to figure out how to deal with his social shortcomings quickly.

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Still, LAist believes trading him probably isn't the answer. Kobe has a no-trade clause, desperately wants to stay in LA, and might only accept a deal to the Clippers. That would be truly disastrous for the Lakers.

With the NBA's current labor agreement, the Lakers need to make sure salaries come close to matching on any trade. Theoretically, the Lakers could send Kobe to Seattle for Ray Allen via a sign-and-trade. We're not the biggest Ray Allen fans, but oh man, can he act. Philadelphia has always murmured they want to trade Allen Iverson, and Kobe could potentially want to play at his old home. But Iverson brings his own set of problems, and we're not convinced he could take the Lakers to the playoffs in the West either. Kobe would love to be in New York, but Lakers aren't stupid enough to take on Allan Houston, Tim Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Stephon Marbury, or any of their other bloated contracts.

No, LAist suggests to Mitch Kupchak that he keep Kobe. He's too talented to give away. The better solution is to find a respected coach who's a solid X's and O's guy. Lamar Odom should definitely be on the trade block, along with Caron Butler. Those are two chips that could be moved and the Lakers could expect some value in return.

In the meantime, we're prepared for the NBA Draft Lottery, where we hope the ping ball bounces the Lakers way so that Drew Bogut will be in purple and gold.