The general consensus for quite some time has been that Kobe Bryant would retire after the two-year extension he signed in 2013 was up. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak strongly hinted that this would be the case in a recent interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
Of course, nothing is official until Bryant actually hangs it up, but Kupchak said the Lakers legend has told him that he’s likely done after next year (via ESPN Los Angeles):
“He has indicated to me that this is it,” Kupchak said Thursday in a radio appearance with SiriusXM NBA Radio. “I think first and foremost, he’s on the last year of a deal,” Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don’t think there will be.”
Bryant will turn 37 in August and next season will be his 20th in the NBA, a year in which he’ll make $25 million in the second year of his two-year deal.
Bryant has suffered season-ending injuries in each of the last three seasons, and even when he played this past year, you could tell his body and game were betraying him. He has enjoyed a long and illustrious career complete with five championships, and while he almost certainly won’t catch Michael Jordan in the rings department, that obviously shouldn’t diminish his achievements.
Perhaps the Lakers make a quick turnaround thanks to their No. 2 pick and some big-time free-agent catches that cause Bryant to change his mind and continue to chase that sixth title. Kupchak himself didn’t rule out a change of heart. However, the more likely scenario is Bryant finally calling it quits in 2016.