Kobe Bryant’s contract is up next summer — and Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sounds like he’s already looking forward to having an extra $25 million to throw around.
Bryant has “indicated to me” the 2015-16 NBA season will be his last, Kupchak said Thursday on SiriusXM radio, per ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes. “He’s much closer to the end than to the beginning,” Kupchak added.
Although there has been no public indication of such by Bryant himself, the specter of retirement has loomed for Bryant, 36, for some time. Next season will be Bryant’s 20th in the NBA, and his last three seasons have been hampered by injury.
The Lakers also could be in the incipient stages of a long rebuild. They earned the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft thanks to a 21-61 season in which Bryant was limited to 35 games. They appear ready to build around young guard Jordan Clarkson and 2014 first-round draft pick Julius Randle, who missed essentially his entire rookie season after breaking his leg in his professional debut.
Bryant is due to make $25 million in 2015-16, the most of any player in the NBA and more than the rest of the currently signed members of L.A.’s roster combined.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images