The Los Angeles Lakers jumped the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in Tuesday’s lottery to secure the second overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. With only the Minnesota Timberwolves selecting ahead of them, there’s a better chance than ever the purple-and-gold will bring an eventual star into the fold.
It’s a good thing, too, because it’s looking increasingly likely one of the Lakers’ most popular and successful players will hang it up after 2015-16. On a radio appearance with SiriusXM NBA yesterday, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said Kobe Bryant has indicated that next season will be the last of his legendary career.
Via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“He has indicated to me that this is it,” Kupchak said Thursday in a radio appearance with SiriusXM NBA Radio.
“I think first and foremost, he’s on the last year of a deal,” Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don’t think there will be.”
The 36-year-old is about to embark on the last of a two-year extension that will pay him $25 million next season. He’s been plagued by a series of injuries over the past two seasons that have limited him to just 41 total games since suffering a torn Achilles in April 2013, including a torn rotator cuff in January that prematurely ended his 2014-15 season.
There have been multiple reports throughout this season that Bryant would retire once his current contract expires. Though he’s hinted as much, Mamba has also directly refuted the notion that any decision on his long-term playing future has been made.
Nothing is set in stone, obviously. Yet it would be prudent for Lakers fans to prepare themselves for watching Bryant go one final round when next season tips off in late October.