Kobe Bryant’s knee is fully healed, according to the Lakers All-Star guard, currently in Brazil to watch the World Cup.
"I’m 100 percent," said Bryant in an interview on Brazilian television. "This summer I’m training really hard. The organization is working really hard to make sure we have a great team. It’s the best time when people count you out."
The Lakers are coming off a difficult season, winning just 27 games while Bryant sat out all but six games with Achilles and knee injuries. He’ll start a $48.5 million, two-year extension next season.
"It was a very, very tough season but what’s life without a few challenges?" asked Bryant.
"We only have three players from last year’s team signed to contracts right now, including me. We don’t have a coach. It’s literally like starting from scratch," he continued. "It’s not really what we have to do better than we did last year, since we have to build the right team to win."
Technically the Lakers have five players under contract including Steve Nash and Robert Sacre. Nick Young is expected to opt out of deal at $1.2 million. Kendall Marshall’s $925,243 is not guaranteed.
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The franchise has yet to lock in a coach since Mike D’Antoni’s resignation at the end of April. Bryant isn’t sure who the team will hire in D’Antoni’s stead.
"That’s a very, very tough call to make because unfortunately there are very few great coaches left," said Bryant. "It’s a very, very short list. We’re really going to take our time to pick the right person."
The Lakers have interviewed Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry, Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis and Lionel Hollins.
Bryant said he would like the Lakers to play an exhibition game in Brazil and reiterated that he expects to retire after finishing up his contract.
"I only plan to play two more years," said Bryant. "It would be great that my last year we can come to play a game here in Rio."