Father Time is undefeated and his next victim might be Kobe Bryant. The aging star has been torn down by injuries the past few seasons, only playing in 41 games over the last two years. Kobe has still been an effective scorer on the court (22.3 points per game in 35 games this season) even if his efficiency (37 percent shooting) wasn’t up to par with his 45 percent career average.
But the fact remains that Bryant will turn 37 in August and has over 50,000 minutes on his body (regular season and playoffs). Plus, all that rehab from serious injuries can wreck havoc on the body of someone who is already worn down. And the Lakers appear to be moving forward with a youth movement, anchored by young potential like Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
All of these factors beg us to ask: When will Kobe hang it up?
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak gave us some insight on that question yesterday:
“I think first and foremost, he’s on the last year of a deal,” Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don’t think there will be.”
“A year from now, if there’s something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then,” Kupchak said of Bryant potentially playing beyond next season. “I talk to him from time to time … and he is recovering. He’s running. He’s getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he’s much closer to the end than to the beginning.”
Even though Kupchak came out on Thursday and said Kobe’s retirement will happen after next season, he’s been saying this for quite awhile now. Check out Kupchak’s quote from a David Aldridge column from December 2014:
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SOURCE: Complex Magazine – Drew Corrigan