Kobe Bryant has rarely been afraid to speak his mind while in L.A., and yesterday's swap sending Lamar Odom to Dallas for a mere trade exception provided no exception to this trend. To put things bluntly, Kobe ain't a happy (training) camper at the moment.
"I haven't really had a chance to think about it too much," responded Kobe when asked for his reaction. Then after a long pause, it became clear much time wasn't required to summarize his feelings.
"I don't like it, to be honest with you. I don't like it."
Kobe doesn't like this trade for a multitude of reasons. He doesn't like it because Lamar's versatility, talent and locker room presence will be borderline impossible to replicate. He doesn't like it because Odom is now a member of the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks, who swept the Lakers in among the more humiliating playoff series of recent memory. He doesn't like the trade because it means a friend has left the franchise.
And he doesn't like it, because, quite frankly, he has no clue why the move was made.
When I observed how it appeared he was waiting for the next move from the front office, Kobe, admittedly not in a good mood at the moment, grew even more annoyed. "Don't anticipate what I'm thinking," he quickly responded. "That's not what I'm saying."
Fair enough, although as I stated back, it's what I -- along with the rest of the world -- is thinking. And I'm sure Kobe wanted to avoid any statements where it sounded like he's putting management on the clock or declaring another teammate presumably on the move. And I respect that from a team leader. But at the risk of claiming the ability to read The Mamba's mind, it's pretty obvious he's pondering another shoe about to drop, if for no other reason than he'd like to believe management didn't simply give away a player of Odom's caliber.
"You're talking about the sixth man of the year last year," said Kobe when I asked how much LO has grown over their seven seasons as teammates. "I mean, he played lights out. I don't understand the criticism of reality shows and this, that and the other. I don't get it. I don't understand it. He had his best season last season. It clearly wasn't a distraction. He played his ass off. I don't get where that comes from.
"Now I'm getting pissed off."
I won't presume to tell Mitch Kupchak how to do his job -- and Kobe repeatedly expressed faith in his general manager's ability to build a roster -- but man alive, something better come of this. If it turns out Odom was traded purely for no other reason than he formally requested one after the Veto-Gate, Kobe's "pissed off" emotions aren't likely to subside for quite some time.
(Note: We've been experiencing technical issues with the video of Kobe, but we'll add whatever we can as soon as possible.)