Before his Achilles injury at the end of the regular season, Kobe Bryant was giving interviews in which he stated that he may retire after his current contract with the Los Angeles Lakers expires.
Before his Achilles injury, Bryant was slated to move up on several merited NBA record lists. On the NBA all-time points leader list, he’s currently just under a thousand points shy of overtaking Michael Jordan for third place, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
More significantly, however, Bryant has five rings, and he hasn’t exactly been hiding the fact that he wants six before he retires.
During an interview with Stephan A. Smith on ESPN Radio, Bryant and Smith talked about how Tim Duncan could have six rings by the end of the postseason, to which Bryant said:
“If he does win five, hopefully that pushes our organization upstairs to be even more determined and more driven to make the necessary expenses to make sure we continue the next year and the year after that. The year after that.”
Steve Nash and Ray Allen are just two recent examples of players, late in their careers, who moved to teams where they had better chances of winning a championship. They also took pay cuts, as Dirk Nowitzki recently stated he is willing to do if it means he will play on a championship worthy team.
The Lakers have most of the money available to them already tied up, especially if Dwight Howard re-signs. There isn’t really room to put together a strong bench or bring in a couple of young players with energy. They don’t have the resources available to them to fix last season’s problems, and if things don’t work out by the end of the 2013-2014, Bryant’s contact will be up. And he will still only have five rings.
If the Lakers are unable win a championship next year, and the right opportunity is there, a competitive Bryant probably couldn’t help but take his final years in the NBA somewhere other than Los Angeles.