Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak still expects Kobe Bryant to retire in 2016

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As Kobe Bryant tries to keep a positive mindset throughout a miserable Lakers season, there’s a lot of uncertainty about his playing future. He signed a two-year contract extension last season that takes him through the 2015-16 season, which would be his 20th year in the NBA. Publicly, Bryant has not committed to playing or not playing beyond that contract, but Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tells NBA.com’s David Aldridge that he doesn’t expect the future Hall of Famer to play beyond then.

“All indications are, to me, from him, that this (two-year contract) is going to be it,” Kupchak said. “If somebody’s thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that. Don’t wait. Do it this year.”

Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine Bryant playing beyond this contract. He’ll be 38 when the deal is up, with a body that’s coming off two major leg injuries in the past 18 months. He’s leading the league in scoring at 25.2 points per game, but he’s shooting under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three-point range.

The Lakers are headed for their second straight trip to the lottery, and there aren’t any indications that things will get better next season. Bryant isn’t going to want to extend his career to play on losing teasms, and he’s already said that he’s never going to play for another franchise besides the Lakers. And why should he keep playing that long? He has nothing to prove to anybody at this point. He’s going to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list in a matter of days and he will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.

For now, it’s going to be fascinating to watch his final days play out.