Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on retirement: ‘Haven’t set anything in stone’

What will next season bring for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers? Bryant isn’t sure — and that’s also true about his potential retirement.

Bryant joined Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports for an interview on Tuesday, even though Bryant is in China on a business trip, according to Spears. And the first question was perhaps the most important for the purple and gold faithful. Will Bryant be back on a basketball court after next season?

"We haven’t set anything in stone and I’ve talked about it before," Bryant said. "But could this be the last [season]? Absolutely. It’s tough to decide. It’s really tough to make those types of decisions. Players I have spoken to say, ‘Kobe, you will know.’ "

It’ll all come down to whether Bryant is still enjoying the game, he said. But if he does decide to retire, there probably won’t be a farewell tour, since it’s a decision he plans to make in the offseason after he’s already done.

As for the massive payday Bryant could garner were he to become a free agent, he said that’s not important:

"I’ve never played for the money. It’s never moved me. Money can come and go. I have a perspective about finances. The family is fine. What is more money going to bring other than more money?"

If Bryant does come back, though, will next season be the first in a line of years where he plays small forward? That’s been the buzz for most of the summer, but it’s not something that Bryant seems too concerned over. After all, he understands the game of basketball arguably better than anyone currently playing, and he knows that small ball is the future (and possibly already the present, unless you’re the Memphis Grizzlies):

KEVIN DURANT IN PICTURES

"I don’t see what the big deal is about it, honestly. What does that even mean anyway? Everyone plays [expletive] small ball anyway. You got forwards that play like [guards]. [Centers] that play like [small forwards]. What’s the difference? Find me some actual [small forwards] and [power forwards] that actually post up now and then."

And Bryant told Spears that he thinks this team can make the playoffs, although that would be a rather marked improvement over last season. Sure, the hope is that Bryant will be healthy and able to contribute much more than he did last season. Ditto for Julius Randle. And the young backcourt is pretty impressive, too. But Los Angeles finished 36 games out of a playoff seed last season. Making the playoffs this season would be a spectacular improvement, but that won’t stop Bryant from saying the playoffs are a possibility:

"Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know."

Doubt Bryant if you want, but the fact remains that the Lakers have only missed the playoffs in the past 10 seasons when Bryant was unable to give the team at least 70 games on the floor. Will that trend hold up one way or the other in 2015-16? If Bryant can stay healthy, it certainly sounds like he thinks so.

(h/t Yahoo! Sports)