Kobe Bryant Return: Black Mamba Will Determine Lakers’ Trade Activity

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant participated in his first practice since tearing his Achilles tendon in April of 2013. Shelburne reports that Bryant is still far from being game ready, but this is a major step in the right direction.

Once Bryant does take the court, his instant impact will determine just how active the Lakers are on the trade market.

The Lakers are currently 4-7 with quality ball movement and little else to be encouraged by. The absence of a star scorer is apparent, and that's where Bryant fits into the equation.

It's unclear how well he'll play in 2013-14, but Bryant led all shooting guards in scoring, rebounds and assists during the 2012-13 regular season. He left no room for doubt that he's still the best player at his position, and many believe he'll reclaim that throne once he's healthy.

As a 35-year-old who tore his Achilles tendon, however, there's no guarantees to be made.

If Bryant is able to save the Lakers' season and make them a legitimate championship contender, the trade rumors will dissipate. Kobe and Pau Gasol have won two NBA championships together, and some believe that the Lakers owe it to themselves to give that duo one last chance.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that.


Win Today or Build for Tomorrow

With Kobe on the roster, it's become a foregone conclusion that the Lakers are going to be a postseason team. Not only is he one of the greatest players in NBA history, but Bryant remains one of the best active forces in the NBA.

Even if Bryant returns to that level in 2013-14, there's a question that Los Angeles has to ask after the lackluster results of its past few seasons: can it win right now?

If the Lakers put a product on the court that consistently wins games and reaches the trade deadline in a position to f...

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