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Kobe Bryant Trade Talk: Should Lakers Trade Masked Mamba? (POLL)

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant celebrates after scoring during the second half on an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 103-92. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant celebrates after scoring during the second half on an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 103-92. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)

The most dangerous time to be behind the wheel of a car is reportedly between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., as day gives way to night. Among the factors involved is likely the difficulty in navigating and making judgements amidst the changing levels of light. Although the repercussions of an error are far less grim, it is also extremely difficult to pilot an NBA franchise during the twilight of a superstar's career. In this case, the changing levels of highlights make it increasingly difficult to make sound judgements.

Just ask Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

The Lakers' struggles thus far this season have been widely attributed to dissension in the locker room caused by the trade rumors swirling around power forward Pau Gasol. Before the season began, Gasol was part of the proposed trade to bring Chris Paul to the Staples Center (in purple and gold as opposed to red and white). Even after NBA Commissioner David Stern quashed that deal, Gasol has remained on the trading block.

Shortly before the All-Star break, Kobe Bryant -- the Lakers' twilight superstar -- lashed out at Lakers management for leaving Gasol wondering whether he was going to get traded or not. Kupchak responded by saying he must explore every opportunity to make the Lakers a better team.

"I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come," he said. "To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans."

While the unsentimental view of Kupchak explains the continued availability of Pau, it also points towards trade discussions that would likely be even less popular in the Lakers' locker room and throughout Los Angeles.

Should the Lakers trade Kobe Bryant?

ESPN's Ric Bucher thinks so. When asked what he would do if he was the GM, Bucher said on Tuesday morning's SportsCenter that he would look to see what he could get for Bryant, explaining that the team's concerns about the luxury tax in the future tells him that the Lakers aren't doing all they can to build a championship team around Kobe.

"Do you want to see them slowly recede and get worse and then Kobe retires and you have nothing left?" he asked. "Or do you look around and say 'You know what, we're going to make the Dallas Herschel Walker move.' We're going to say, 'we know where we're going, we don't want to fall off the map when he's done, let's see what we can get.'"

The Lakers are one of the older teams and don't have many young stars in the lineup. Center Andrew Bynum is the only starter under the age of 30 (24). So would trading the five-time NBA champion be the best move?

What do you think? Would it be worth exploring Kobe Bryant trades for the future? It's not as if it would be the first time a future Hall of Famers spent the last year or two of their career with a different team. Let us know what you think!

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