Kobe Bryant on Lamar Odom trade: "I don't like it."
Kobe Bryant is not happy.
One of his closest friends on the Lakers, Lamar Odom, was traded Saturday night to Dallas for a first-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft, depriving the Lakers of their top rebounder and a solid character guy in the locker room.
"I don't like it," Bryant said Sunday. "I've known Lamar for a long time, and for the team itself, he's meant a lot in terms of his versatility, his personality. He's a big presence for us in the locker room, just from a team chemistry standpoint. He's great at bringing guys together and things of that nature.PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years
"I trust management knows what they're doing. I let them do their jobs, I never get in the way but it's tough. You're talking about sixth man of the year last year. He played lights out."
Odom, 32, averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds last season.
Bryant wasn't buying into speculation that Odom's off-the-court activities were distractions, including a burgeoning reality-TV career with wife Khloe Kardashian.
"I don't understand the criticism of [the] reality shows. I don't get it. He had his best season last year. It clearly wasn't a distraction. He played his ass off. I don't get where that comes from."
"Especially to them," Bryant said. "We were supposed to come back and get them back, know what I mean?"
The Lakers also received a traded-player exception worth Odom's salary this season, $8.9 million. Trade exceptions are difficult to explain, but the Lakers can obtain a player from another team by trading only a draft pick if the player makes under $9 million. Teams have exactly one year to use a traded-player exception.
The Lakers could try to package the traded-player exception to get a better player than Odom, but Bryant isn't counting on that.
"I'm not thinking that at all," he said.
Bryant had one last salvo, which he said with a smile.
"I don't think Mark Cuban's protesting this trade," he said.
The Mavericks' owner last week questioned the Lakers' trade that would have acquired New Orleans guard Chris Paul for Odom and Pau Gasol. The NBA blocked the deal, which also involved Houston.
Odom was irritated to have been involved in the Paul trade in the first place. He did not practice with the team the first two days of training camp.
"To me, I would think it's better to stay away," Odom told The Times in a phone interview Friday. "You know, the energy and all. I don't know how it's going to go right now. It's a little weird. … Right now, I'll be a fan of the game from a distance."
-- Mike Bresnahan
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant deals with the media on Friday after the team's first practice of the season. Credit: Los Angeles Times