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Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak believes that Kobe Bryant will retire from the game when his contract expires in 2016.
The 36-year-old continues to play at a high level so far this season despite his recent injury woes, and he is averaging 25.5 points, 4.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game through 22 contests so far this season.
However, despite his personal achievements as he closes in on Michael Jordan to move to third place on the NBA all-time scoring list, the Lakers have slipped to 6-16 for the season and will likely look at the free agency market in the summer to have one final push next year.
Kupchak has warned fans not to wait until the year after to see Bryant as he is fairly confident that the veteran will call time on his career in 2016.
“All indications are, to me, from [Bryant], that this (two-year contract) is going to be it,” said Kupchak.
“If somebody’s thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that. Don’t wait. Do it this year.”
Nevertheless, Bryant did receive criticism when signing his extension back in 2013 as many believed he didn’t give the Lakers enough salary-cap space to make a more immediate push.
Particularly in the deep Western Conference, the men in the famous purple and gold have struggled to remain competitive over the last two years but that hasn’t effected confidence as Jeremy Lin and coach Byron Scott still believe that they can make the playoffs as injured players continue to return.
However, the general consensus is that the Lakers need a lottery pick in next year’s Draft and an All-Star calibre player to link up with Bryant in order to make his final year in the league a successful one.
Despite Kupchak’s claims, Bryant himself has yet to comment on what he will do in 2016 and he has not yet discussed the possibility of retirement with the media.