Kobe Bryant has made it very clear that he will be returning to the Los Angeles Lakers for his 20th season next year. That will be the final year of his contract and most assume the final season of his illustrious career.
Even though Kobe has said that next season will likely be his last, he also said that he could see him playing past next season according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
Kobe asked if he could envision himself playing beyond next season: "Yes, I could."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) March 11, 2015
Kobe also noted, however, that he won’t know for sure if he can play until he gets through a full season healthy according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Kobe Bryant says he probably won't know if he can play beyond contract until he goes through a healthy season.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 11, 2015
Seeing as how Kobe hasn’t gone through a full season injury free since 2012 and has almost 47,000 regular season minutes to his credit, it is difficult to envision Kobe making it through his 20th season without any aches and pains.
Kobe will go through everything he has to in order to make sure his body is in peak condition before the start of next season, but at some point the body just can’t handle the grind of the NBA anymore and Kobe may be at that point.
Regardless, the Lakers hope the team will be much different by the time that comes around. With young players like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, as well as multiple draft picks and plenty of salary cap room, the Lakers could be in position to lighten Kobe’s load, which could possibly afford him an extra year or two.[divide]
Is Kobe Bryant Looking At Any College Prospects?