The Los Angeles Lakers were rumored to be looking into a trade for Kobe Bryant, but even though the future Hall of Famer has shut down that talk, there still appears to be a disconnect between him and team management.
With Bryant’s time winding down and major injuries now cutting his season short for the third consecutive year, rumors were mounting that the rebuilding Lakers were looking to trade Bryant to a contender.
But now, a new Showtime documentary called Kobe Bryant’s MUSE has revealed that Kobe Bryant plans to end his career with the only team he’s ever played on.
“If I’m not playing in a Laker uniform, I’m not playing,” Bryant said at the documentary’s premiere.
The documentary’s director, Gotham Chopra, spent hours with Kobe to put it together and dropped another bit of news — that Kobe’s not ready to hang up his sneakers just yet.
“I don’t think he will ever be a guy who lets the injury sort of be the end,” Chopra told LakersNation. “He’ll get back to where he needs to be, and then he’ll decide if he wants to keep on going.”
The news comes amid growing uncertainty about Kobe Bryant’s future. Recently, the team’s general manager, Mitch Kupchak, made it clear that the team wasn’t going to go all out to make a title run in Kobe’s last season.
“This team primarily has been Kobe’s team now for almost 18 or 20 years,” Kupchak said, “and we’re much closer to the end of those 18, 20 years than we are to the middle or the beginning. So at some point we have to start a new run.”
“To jeopardize the next five or seven years, bring in old veterans that make a lot of money, just to win one more year, because that’s Kobe’s last year or could be his last year, I’m not sure that fits into doing it the right way.”
It turns out Kobe didn’t see it the same way. In an interview with GQ, Bryant made it seem that the team was committed to winning now rather than trying a longer rebuild.The interview with Chuck Klosterman read as follows.
“The Lakers are not going to make the playoffs this year, and it seems unlikely that they will challenge for a title next year. So if titles are your only goal, why even play these last two seasons?
I know what Mitch [Kupchak, the Lakers GM] tells me. I know what Jim and Jeanie [Buss, the team owners] tell me. I know that they are hell-bent about having a championship caliber team next season, as am I.”
While the trade rumors may be put to rest, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers still don’t appear to be on the same page regarding next season, and his role for next season is far from clear.