Kobe Bryant has one year remaining on his contract with the Lakers beyond this current season, and once that year is finished, it’s likely that Bryant’s Hall of Fame career will have similarly concluded, as well.
Whether he does or does not choose to pursue an additional year or two following the expiration of his current contract may be up for some internal debate; what’s far more certain is that if there are additional seasons to be played, Bruant will be playing them as a member of the Lakers.
He’s stated it again and again, most recently in an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today.
“It’s not going to happen,” Bryant told USA TODAY Sports when asked if the temptation to change teams might still grow from here. “It’s not going to happen. You go through the good times, you’ve got to go through the bad times.”
“It’s not going to happen,” he continued after finishing with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Hornets,. “I have a no-trade clause. (Lakers governor) Jeanie (Buss) and (Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations) Jimmie (Buss) aren’t sending me anywhere.”
Rick Fox, who played alongside Bryant for seven seasons in Los Angeles, spoke on the subject before the season began, but it’s relevant once again now that rumors of Bryant being traded to the Knicks have begun to surface. In an appearance with Larry King (via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News), Fox said he wouldn’t put it past Bryant to ultimately leave the Lakers in pursuit of one more title before he calls it quits.
Mindful that Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract ends following the 2015-16 season, former Lakers teammate Rick Fox hardly dismissed the idea he would leave the Lakers to finish out his career pursuing more NBA championships.
“I would not put it past him,” Fox said in a recent appearance with Larry King …
“”If there is not a real opportunity for [Bryant] to win a championship there, the thought of him leaving may shock Lakers fans,” Fox said. “But I wouldn’t put it past him going in search of one or two more championships. Personally, I think it’s going to get done in New York. I really do. I just believe in Phil. I’ve been around him. I know Kobe has had his greatest success with Phil in a leadership capacity. So the reuniting of the two is not an unrealistic thought.”
Except that it is.
If Bryant remains healthy and can play at the level he has to begin this season, which has put him at second in the league in scoring thus far behind only Stephen Curry, then maybe he decides to push it for one more year — especially if someone like Kevin Love, for example, were to suddenly become one of his teammates.
But if Bryant does continue his career, it will be in Los Angeles; he’s never wavered on that in the slightest.