Kobe Bryant will make the 2015-16 season his last with the Los Angeles Lakers, general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a radio interview on Thursday.
Appearing on Sirius XM NBA Radio, the Lakers general manager said that Kobe told him “that this is it.” The Black Mamba enters the last year of his contract, in which he earns a league-high $25 million, with Los Angeles.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and the third greatest scorer in the history of the NBA, does not rule out that his twentieth season will be his last in the NBA.
The last three seasons for Bryant and the Lakers have not been good. In the 2014-2015 campaign Bryant managed to play only 35 games due to a season ending shoulder injury and the team won only 21 games, earning the distinction of being the worst Lakers squad in franchise history. Their .256 winning percentage this season out-stinks the .264 winning percentage set by the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers, who finished 19-53.
ESPN reported that Kupchak will wait until next season before the Lakers make any plans for a Kobe farewell tour.
“It’s kind of up to the player, if they want to do something like that,” Kupchak said. “And it also may take away some options a year from now and put a player in an awkward position, but he will be recognized appropriately with great gratitude when it is time.”
Kupchak said that for many years Bryant wanted to have a role in the decision-making process on every move the organization made. However, he doesn’t expect Bryant to play a role in determining which way the Lakers will go with potential recruits for next season.
The Lakers grabbed the #2 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery this week and will likely land either Duke center Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky big-man Karl-Anthony Towns.