Mitch Kupchak: Indications Are Kobe Bryant Will Retire In 2016

Kobe Bryant closes his eyes during the National Anthem before a game vs the Heat

Heading into the 2014-15 NBA season, there were question marks about Kobe Bryant after two consecutive season-ending injuries. While the 36-year-old isn’t as efficient as he has been in the past, the five-time champion is averaging 25.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists through the first 21 games of the season.

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In an extended feature on the Lakers by David Aldridge of NBA.com, general manager Mitch Kupchak believes that Kobe will retire in 2016 when his two-year contract ends:

“All indications are, to me, from him, that this (two-year contract) is going to be it,” Kupchak said. “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.”

While the Lakers have struggled this season and are experimenting with a new lineup change, Kobe is posting numbers that haven’t been accomplished this late in an NBA career despite the poor shooting percentages. As a result, the discussion has been about whether Kobe will play beyond his current two-year, $48.5 million contract.

Kobe was recently asked about playing beyond his current contract and did not give a definite answer following the loss to the Washington Wizards. Although the Lakers are struggling this season, the franchise will have approximately $30 million in cap space to pursue free agents once again this off-season and may potentially have a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

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