Phil: I don’t think Kobe will retire, might leave LA

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Kobe Bryant says he’s unsure whether he’ll retire after this season, when his contract expires.

But Phil Jackson – who coached Kobe with the Lakers and now runs the Knicks – has an idea.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

https://twitter.com/HerringWSJ/status/647422443028656128

On one hand, I think Jackson is trying to tweak his old bosses in Los Angeles. Jackson might also be implying New York is a potential destination for Kobe – to plant the seed with Kobe, to generate interest in the Knicks right now or both.

(I’d note that the NBA’s tampering rules are vague and arbitrarily applied. This might qualify. It might not. There’s no telling what the league will decide.)

Jackson is usually calculated with these things. But we can’t completely dismiss the idea that Jackson, who has known Kobe a long time, has insight into the guard’s thinking. Jackson isn’t the first person who knows Kobe well to suggest Kobe might leave the Lakers in 2016 free agency.

Obviously, a lot will change between now and next summer. The biggest issue is the health of a 37-year-old Kobe. The Lakers’ success, his production and contact offers will also factor.

The Lakers will be better off when they can escape Kobe’s shadow. That might mean him retiring. That might mean him taking a smaller salary. That might mean him taking fewer shots.

But it could mean letting him walk in free agency.

Next summer could be awkward for the Lakers and Kobe, whose image is based in part on being a Laker for Life.

Jackson just did his part to make it a little more uncomfortable.