Is next season Kobe Bryant’s last in the NBA?
No one seems to know; not Kobe himself, and certainly not the man who signs his enormous paychecks.
Jim Buss, the embattled part-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, says that the ball is entirely in Bryant’s court when it comes playing past his 20th year in the League.
The Lakers continue to rebuild with an eye towards the future, one that may or not include The Black Mamba.
Per the LA Times:
“We’re going to approach it like it is, but that doesn’t mean it is,” Buss said of Bryant. “I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘This is it, Kobe, you’re done,’ because it’s not my decision, it’s his decision.” […] Bryant, with one year left on his contract, will be the highest paid player in the NBA this season at $25 million. Buss gave Bryant a two-year, $48.5-million extension in 2013 before he even returned from a torn Achilles’ tendon six months earlier.
Buss has received plenty of criticism for over-investing in the aging star, who just turned 37 as he heads into his 20th season. […] “The man has done so much for the Lakers and the fans of the Laker nation, he deserves the money,” Buss said. “I don’t understand anybody trying to break down what I did for him. Let’s break down what he did for us, then say, what is he worth? To me, he’s worth that.”
So is this Bryant’s final year with the team? “My arms are like this,” Buss said, holding his arms wide open, about Bryant’s future. […] “He just has to know, at that age, and that many miles on you, what is your role? We’ll explain the role, and if he still wants to do that and that’s how he wants to go out, that’s fine with me.”