LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant blasted the Los Angeles Lakers management in an expletive-laden outburst as he described his frustration with the way the NBA club was handling the Pau Gasol trade rumors.
Speaking after the Lakers loss to Phoenix on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Bryant said he was upset with the constant rumors circulating around Gasol and the team since the start of the season. The NBA trading deadline is March 15.
"I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him. It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow."
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said late Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a statement that they are pursuing "opportunities to improve the team."
"As General Manager of the Lakers, 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," Kupchak said.
"To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage."
Bryant called Gasol a "pillar" of the team. He and Gasol won two NBA championships together in 2010 and 2009.
"If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it," Bryant said.
"This way, he can be comfortable and go out and can perform and play and he can invest all of himself into the game. 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."
Spain's Gasol has two more seasons on his contract and the four-time all-star, who will make $18.7 million this season, has said publicly he wants to stay with the Lakers.
Two months ago, Gasol thought he was headed Houston in the three-way trade that would have seen New Orleans guard Chris Paul come to the Lakers. But the deal was struck down by the NBA head office. - AFP