Kobe could play for another team next season, speculates Jackson – New York Knicks president Phil Jackson had the rumor mill grinding when he suggested Lakers star Kobe Bryant could extend his NBA career somewhere outside of Los Angeles.
HEADING ELSEWHERE? Kobe Bryant may not be done with basketball after his contract with the Lakers is up this year, speculates the coach who brought him his greatest success. File photo by Paul Buck/EPA
NEW YORK, USA – New York Knicks president Phil Jackson had the rumor mill grinding Friday when he suggested Lakers star Kobe Bryant could extend his NBA career somewhere outside of Los Angeles.
Jackson, who coached Kobe Bryant to 5 NBA titles in Los Angeles, was asked if he believed 2015-16 would be Bryant’s last season. The 37-year-old is slated to earn $25 million this season, the second of a two-year contract he was awarded by the Lakers in 2013.
Bryant, who has battled shoulder, Achilles and knee injuries in recent years, has said he’ll decide after this campaign if he’s ready to retire, but Jackson said Friday he thought Bryant would play on.
“I don’t think it’s his last year,” Jackson said in answer to a question at a pre-training camp press conference at the Knicks’ training facility. “It sounds like it may be his last year as a Laker.”
Bryant, entering his 20th season, has played his entire career for the Lakers.
Jackson noted that great players, like Bryant and Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan, find it hard to stop because they thrive on the speed of the game.
“But your body fails you,” Jackson added. “That’s the denominator there.”
Nevertheless, Jackson said Bryant’s enforced rest because of injuries could allow him to extend his career.
“He’s had, what, two seasons that have been aborted because of injuries,” Jackson said. “I think he’s going to be really better than people think, and I think there will still be a future for him as he goes through this season into next year, where people are going to ask, ‘Do you still want to play basketball?’
“So we’ll see how it goes,” Jackson said.