In recent days, we’ve seen one, true franchise player (Paul Pierce) leave the team where he played his entire, and another such player (Dirk Nowitzki) can’t seem to escape similar innuendo surrounding his future. In an effort to alleviate that sort of tension from the Los Angeles Lakers, the team’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Jim Buss, gave the following quotes to Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN Los Angeles:
“I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent,” Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday night. “That’s not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He’s a Laker legend and always will be. I don’t think we’re done winning championships with him yet.
“[Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak and [Bryant's agent] Rob Pelinka have been talking, but with him being hurt, it has slowed the process some. I don’t know when it’ll get done, but I have faith in Rob and Mitch to work things out.”
That is plain and simple.
If Buss’s comments are anything close to true, it appears that Kobe Bryant will be a Laker for Life, and frankly, it would be weird to see him in another uniform. However, it is probably irresponsible for Buss to dismiss any notion of Kobe moving on, as he currently makes over $30 million for this season, and has been notoriously negative around taking a pay cut.
Much of the speculation around Kobe at the moment centers around his ailing achilles, but comments like these from the Laker front office seem to point forward in to the more distant future.