Author: Kurt Helin

Kobe Bryant

Kobe, you going to play beyond this contract? “Maybe. Maybe not.”


In the past, Kobe Bryant has said this is it. He’s going to play these two years with the Lakers then retire, move to Florida, eat soup for dinner and watch a lot of “CSI:Miami” reruns.

People around him believe that he believed that, but also thought when it came tim to hang up the Nikes and turn off the competitive juices (at least in the NBA setting) it wouldn’t be easy for him. He’d want to keep going if healthy, especially if he were putting up numbers. And this season he is putting up numbers.

Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said Wednesday he hoped to have a team in Los Angeles that would intrigue Kobe enough in a couple that he’d want to stick around. Put him in the camp that thinks Kobe wants to keep going. After those comments Kobe was asked about continuing to play, and he sounded more open to the idea than we have heard from him before, as reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t want to be coy about it,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 111-95 loss on Wednesday to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. “I don’t know what to tell you. Right now I’d say no. But it doesn’t matter. Would that change a year form now or something like that?…

“If I want to play, I’ll play. I tend to make my own decisions. If I don’t want to play, I won’t play,” Bryant said. “It’s just a feeling on if I want to go through the process of being ready every single day and the amount of commitment that it takes. Its nuts. If I want to continue to do that, I will. If I don’t, I don’t.”

That would be self-aware Kobe recognizing that he doesn’t know.

If Kobe is playing at the end of next season near the level he is now, my guess is he will not be ready to walk away. That’s just my speculation, but it’s an informed guess having been around the Lakers and Kobe.

To me the more interesting question is: Would he leave and go to another team to chase that sixth ring? He has adamantly said no, backed the Buss family and said he wants to retire a Laker. I have no doubt he means that. But if he still wants to play come the summer of 2016 and the Lakers are still in full on rebuilding mode around him (which is likely) will he have another change of heart?

Marcin Gortat was dunking at will on Lakers (VIDEOS)

Marcin Gortat, Carlos Boozer, Wesley Johnson

The Lakers struggled to contain the Wizards’ speed and movement all night Wednesday — John Wall’s quickness was a pressure the Lakers could not handle (which is why the Wizards won comfortably).

Same with Marcin Gortat moving toward the rim — he had 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting on the night, and he was 8-of-8 on shots in the restricted area. Jordan Hill and the Lakers’ defense would slide over to try to contain Wall on the pick-and-roll, there was no good rotation and Gortat had room to get to the rim and throw it down. And I don’t mean once.

Byron Scott thinks Kobe might play beyond this contract if Lakers improve

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant has said he is done after this two-year contract.

No doubt he means and believes that. Right now. But plenty of people both around Kobe and around the league think it’s not going to be that simple, that the ultra-competitive Kobe, a guy who loves the process and challenge of playing in the NBA at his age, is not just going to be able to flip the switch and turn it off.

Maybe Byron Scott is in that camp. The Lakers’ coach thinks he and Lakers management might be able to persuade Kobe to stick around. Here is what Scott said Wednesday, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“We’ll talk about that. You guys have watched him play. He has a lot left in that tank,” Scott said before the Lakers (4-13) play the Washington Wizards (11-5) at Verizon Center. “If we put something together that excites him, we’ll have a real good chance of him saying he’ll play another year and give it another shot. That’s what we plan to do.”

He added this (via the AP):

“He’s still hungry. He still loves the game. He still loves the competition. He still loves going against these younger guys now because he was once that younger guy,” Scott said.

Count me among the skeptics that the Lakers can put together a team that will interest Kobe to stick around in the next two years. That’s a hard mountain to climb.

Right now, Kobe believes this is his last contract. He has no doubt he plays this year and next then walks away into the world of business. Maybe he does. But two years is an eternity around the NBA and maybe come the summer of 2016 Kobe will not be able to walk away so easily, he could have a change of heart and think he wants to go one more round, go hard after one more ring. Whether or not he does it in purple and gold.

But right now all of that is just speculation. Including from the Lakers’ coach.