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Who wins this battle: Bryant or Kupchak?

11:59 PM EST, February 21, 2012

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Kupchak has the power

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Look, Kobe Bryant and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak are far more similar than different, wired to win at all costs. Kupchak may do so in a far more behind-the-scenes manner. But both bleed purple and gold and victories.

So Kupchak, as usual, will win in this latest mini-personnel pull. Remember when Kobe demanded to be traded in 2007? That was how many NBA Finals appearances ago? The Lakers no longer are among the NBA's elite. But no matter what Kobe demands, expect Kupchak to make the best move to try to put the Lakers back in position to be elite again.

That's what Kupchak's impressive track record has proved through the various chatter of Kobe, Shaq, even World Peace.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Bryant powerless again

Ben Bolch

Los Angeles Times

It's no contest, really. Did Mitch Kupchak listen when Kobe Bryant wanted out of Los Angeles a few summers back? Did Kupchak call the Mavericks and request that they send back Lamar Odom upon learning that Bryant was upset with the deal?

Bryant whines and Kupchak wins in the battle between superstar player and his GM. And that's the way it should be, unless the Lakers want to give Bryant a dual role of making the baskets and calling the shots.

Ultimately, Kupchak will decide whether he can improve the Lakers by dealing Pau Gasol before the March 15 trade deadline and Bryant will be left telling us how he feels about the move but powerless to do anything about it.

bbolch@tribune.com

Buss family behind wheel

Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

Neither. The answer is: The Buss family. Always.

Recall Kobe wanted Andrew Bynum gone. Not only didn't that happen, but the Lakers went on to win a pair of championships.

Mitch Kupchak could not possibly have wanted to cast aside Lamar Odom for absolutely nothing in return. But that's a deal that did happen.

The Lakers are in a dark place right now. Kupchak is finding his hands tied; Mike Brown hardly is coming off as a definitive leader.

Into the void, as always, steps Kobe. It's as if we're back in the Rudy T era.

In the end, the Busses, well, drive this bus. Perhaps off a cliff this time, but they nonetheless aren't about to cede control. To Mitch. Or to Kobe.

iwinderman@tribune.com

Get Gasol's head in game

David Georgette

Orlando Sentinel

Kobe Bryant says the Lakers should make a decision on the future of Pau Gasol — trade him or keep him. Why would the Lakers even want to trade Gasol? He won an NBA title for L.A. in 2010 when he stepped up against the Celtics, just two years after Kevin Garnett and the Celtics bulldozed Gasol. And just one year after the Lakers took care of Dwight Howard and the Magic in the Finals.

When Gasol's head is in the game, he is among the best big guys in the league. Who's better? Howard? Are the Magic going to deal Howard straight up for Gasol? That doesn't make sense. So Mitch Kupchak should help Gasol get his head in the game by telling the big guy he's the guy for the Lakers — at least for this season.

dgeorgette@tribune.com