Next summer, Kobe Bryant is a free agent. He could leave the Lakers to play anywhere he chooses.
Not that anyone expects him to. With five rings already, he’s not going ring chasing. He’s expected to re-sign with the Lakers, and despite some public posturing he’s expected to take a lot less money to stay in Forum blue and gold.
But just to make sure there is more groundwork laid, Jeanie Buss — one of the key parts of the Buss family ownership of the Lakers — told ESPN Radio in Los Angeles this week they want him to stay in the family his entire career, as reported by Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“I want Kobe to take the time that he needs to get healthy,” Buss said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPNLA 710. “I don’t want to see him come back any sooner than when he’s ready, and I know he’ll know when that is. There’s no reason for him to do anything that compromises his health.”
Later, when asked by ESPNLosAngeles.com to expand on that comment, Buss said, “Kobe is part of the Laker family and he always will be. There’s not many players who play 18-19 years with the same franchise, and it’s important to us that he has a chance to play his entire career with the Lakers.”
Kobe has said wants to stay a Laker as well, and he continues to profess his trust in Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers brain trust to put together a winner (which is more than you can say for Dwight Howard).
The only reason he bolts is if that trust changes. Which is not impossible, although he’d have to take near the league minimum and accept a lesser role on a contender to chase that ring.
I just don’t see it happening. Kobe is a Laker for life.