Kobe Bryant: Lakers are ‘going to be a contender’


Kobe Bryant told Lakers.com on Thursday that the Los Angeles Lakers will “have a team out there on the floor that’s going to be a contender.”

“L.A. is home for me. It’s the longest place I’ve ever stayed as a kid moving around,” said Bryant to Lakers.com. “Being in one place for 17 years was completely foreign for me. But this is home. With the organization going forward you’re going to expect the same old, same old. Figuring it out, figuring it out now. I hear the critics (of) the roster, everything is up in the air … it may seem that way now but the dust will settle. We’ll have a team out there on the floor that’s going to be a contender.”

So, what will the Lakers roster look like next season?

“I think it really depends on what Dwight (Howard) decides to do,” said Bryant.

Bryant said he wants Howard to stay with the Lakers because of his talent and defensive skills.

“I think his talent level, his defensive prowess,” said Bryant. “We saw what he could do at the end of the year when we all started clicking … I think that makes him extremely, extremely valuable.”

However, Bryant only wants Howard to sign if he truly wants to remain in L.A..

“It has to be his decision,” said Bryant. “The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here. If you have to convince them when challenges or adversity comes up next season, it’s very easy to say, ‘Well they had to convince me to be here anyway, I really didn’t want to be here, I’d rather be (somewhere else) but they sold me on it.’ You want it to be his decision. When it’s something that’s rooted inside of him, it’s something he champions. I just want to be there to assist his decision.”

Bryant, who is recovering from a surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, said he plans to be playing in November or early December.

“Absolutely,” he said. “It really just depends on the tendon. When the doctor takes the Governor off me, so to speak, and says that the tendon is where we need it to be and that it’s not a concern to overstretch it, that means it’s on me. That means it’s strengthening the calf muscle, getting in shape … I can handle that.”

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