Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has revealed that he may well play on after next season, but much depends on how he feels both physically and mentally.
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Bryant’s current deal with the Lakers expires at the end of next season, and it has been widely speculated that he will call time on his playing career at that point.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has even previously conceded that he doesn’t think Bryant will sign another deal, although it remains to be seen if the veteran guard has a change of heart.
The 36-year-old is currently sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery, his third straight season which has been ended prematurely by injury and he discussed his future with the media on Tuesday.
“Who the hell said I was retiring next year?” Bryant asked, according to ESPN. “There was never a question for me, whether or not I was going to play next year. It was never a question.”
When asked if he could play beyond next year: “Yeah, I could,” he said. “As I sit here right now, do I want to play after next year? No. That could change.”
“It’s if I feel like playing, if I feel like doing the process again, if I feel like I’m enjoying getting up and training every single day and that sort of thing. After three years of dealing with this crap, I kind of understand why I don’t want to deal with that anymore.”
Bryant insists that this latest injury setback isn’t as bad given that his shoulder is already feeling relatively strong and that he is helped significantly by the fact that he can move around as opposed to when he was recovering from knee and Achilles problems.
The Lakers legend insists that he is “hell-bent” on making sure he leaves the franchise in a strong position, and he conceded that he would much prefer having a player in place that he can effectively hand over the franchise to in order to build on what he was able to achieve in LA.