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Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott has downplayed recent comments from Kobe Bryant in which he suggested that he could consider retiring early.
Scott conceded that he isn’t surprised by Bryant contemplating it even though he still has one more year remaining on his contract, but he doesn’t believe a decision will be made until the season is over.
“I’m sure it’s probably crossed his mind more than once, but we haven’t talked about that one bit,” Scott said on Sunday.
“It’s just game by game — that’s how we’re going to approach it and then go from there. I think he’ll probably tackle that issue once this season is all said and done.”
The 36-year-old signed a two-year deal worth $48.5m in 2013, but he has struggled in recent weeks to string games together and has sat out back-to-backs and more since the Christmas schedule.
Bryant started the season with a team-high in minutes, but he has cited general body soreness as the issue behind his absences and he has really struggled to get back into shape for significant minutes.
That in turn resulted in him discussing the possibility of early retirement, but Scott insists that it is a very difficult decision to make and that Bryant will likely wait until he can assess how he feels this summer.
“I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t crossed my mind,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. “Right now I doubt it … but anything’s possible.”
Meanwhile, Nick Young shook his head when Bryant’s early retirement was mentioned. “I know it’s tough for him. We don’t realize what we have here with Kobe and when it’s gone, it’s over. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You realize how great he really was and how fortunate we were to have him out there on the court.”