If it hasn't happened already, it's fair to say that ESPN NBA analyst/reporter Ric Bucher just fell out of Kobe Bryant's so-called "circle of trust."
That's the phrase Bryant coined years ago in describing reporters he allows in his inner circle because they'll fairly cover him. Some skeptics would contend that the reporters in the circle of trust won't ever challenge Bryant in exchange for favorable access. Bucher, a past Bryant confidant, proposed Tuesday on ESPN's "SportsCenter" the most absurd trade scenario the Lakers should consider leading into the March 15 deadline. That involved shipping off Bryant so they could rid themselves of his three-year, $83.5-million contract and invest more for the future.
The scenario is unrealistic since Bryant has a no-trade clause and he's not exactly going on a radio tour like he did five years ago demanding the Lakers ship him elsewhere. Regardless of whether he's in the tail-end of his career, Bryant's still averaging a league-leading 28.9 points while nursing a torn ligament in his right wrist, wearing a plastic mask to protect his tender nose and tolerating neck pain. And seriously, we're talking about Kobe Bryant. Unless the Lakers just want to start a riot in L.A. and become a punch line just for kicks, there's no reason to trade the franchise player.