Los An­ge­les Lak­ers drop Bryant fu­ture hint

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Los An­ge­les Lak­ers Pres­i­dent Jim Buss hinted the club would be ready to hold dis­cus­sions about pos­si­bly ex­tend­ing Kobe Bryant’s NBA ca­reer when the star’s cur­rent con­tract ex­pires at the end of the 2015-2016 sea­son.

Buss told the Los An­ge­les Times in an in­ter­view pub­lished on Fri­day that Bryant’s history with the Lak­ers ought to grant him the op­por­tu­nity to call time on his ca­reer on his own terms.

“We’re go­ing to ap­proach it like it is, but that doesn’t mean it is,” Buss said of Bryant’s pos­si­ble fi­nal sea­son in the NBA.

“I’m not go­ing to sit there and say, ‘ This is it, Kobe, you’re done,’ be­cause it’s not my de­ci­sion, it’s his de­ci­sion.”

Bryant, 37, will earn US$25 mil­lion this year. He was granted a two- year con­tract worth US$48.5 mil­lion in 2013 but has since played only 41 games over two sea­sons be­cause of knee and shoul­der in­juries.

Buss hit back at crit­ics of the de­ci­sion to award Bryant such a gen­er­ous con­tract de­spite his ad­vanc­ing years and in­jury record.

“The man has done so much for the Lak­ers and the fans of the Laker na­tion, he de­serves the money,” Buss said.

“I don’t un­der­stand any­body try­ing to break down what I did for him. Let’s break down what he did for us, then say, what is he worth? To me, he’s worth that.”

Asked if he ex­pected this sea­son to be Bryant’s fi­nal year with the team, Buss re­port­edly ex­tended his arms wide open and replied: “My arms are like this.”

“He just has to know, at that age, and that many miles on you, what is your role? We’ll ex­plain the role, and if he still wants to do that and that’s how he wants to go out, that’s fine with me,” Buss said.

Bryant has won five NBA ti­tles with the Lak­ers, in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

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