Los Angeles Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss isn’t leaving any room for doubt when it comes to Kobe Bryant’s future.
"Kobe is part of the Laker family and he always will be. There’s not many players who play 18-19 years with the same franchise, and it’s important to us that he has a chance to play his entire career with the Lakers," Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Bryant, who will turn 35 on Aug. 23, is recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury that required surgery.
"I want Kobe to take the time that he needs to get healthy," Buss told ESPNLA 710 radio. "I don’t want to see him come back any sooner than when he’s ready, and I know he’ll know when that is. There’s no reason for him to do anything that compromises his health."
Bryant will make an NBA-high $30.5 million in the 2013-14 season, his final season under contract. However, he isn’t creating much drama about his long-term plans, either, having recently told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he hopes to play two or three more seasons and retire as a Laker.
In 78 games this past season, Bryant averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while 46.3 percent from the field.