Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will become a free agent next summer, according to T.J. Simers of the Orange County Register.
The Lakers’ season starts next week, and I never asked. He doesn’t know when he will be ready to play, but it’s going to take time because, “I gotta be ready to come out guns blazing,” says Bryant, now 35.
“I have to make sure I’m ready because now that I’m older I have to worry about the rest of my body compensating for where I was injured. At this age other things can go quickly if you’re not really ready.”
He becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and Jim Buss says because of the pay structure of the NBA, the Lakers will allow Kobe to become a free agent.
He says he has talked to Kobe and believes they have an understanding, Bryant waiting as a free agent while the team spends to upgrade and then using what is left over to pay Kobe.
“We’ve probably talked,” says Kobe while being somewhat vague, “but I’m putting off any thought of that.”
Bryant is entering the final season of his contract, which will pay him $30.45 million. But the Lakers are unsure how their superstar will play when he returns from his Achilles injury.
Bryant did say in July that he’s confident he can play at a high level for another three years.
The Lakers will have plenty of purchasing power next July when a host free agents become available – LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay and Luol Deng.[SlamOnline]