Kobe Bryant has yet to sign an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, but fans needn’t worry – the Black Mamba has reiterated many times that his intention is to retire as Laker; he even mentioned this again last night in an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
Earlier this week, Bryant talked to Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports and discussed his pending free agency, Jim Buss’ recent comments and whether he’s talked to Carmelo Anthony about joining the Lakers next summer:
[pullquote]Q: [Lakers VP] Jim Buss has said that he is not going to let you become a free agent or go elsewhere. Your thoughts on those words?
Bryant: “I thought it was a great actually on his part to kind of silence some of the conversation that was brewing. I’m sure we will be in conversation. I’ll let [my agent] Rob [Pelinka] handle that. Obviously, I have a lot to focus on right now so I will let them handle that.”
Q: So that means you won’t explore free agency next summer?
Bryant: “Am I a free agent right now? No. Next summer is next summer. How do I know what is going to happen? Jim Buss just said they’re going to start conversations now. We will start the conversations and go from there.”
Q: New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is a good friend of yours who has said he would explore free agency next summer. Have you spoken with him about free agency?
Bryant: “He’s in New York. I’m in L.A. I have no idea what he is going to do or what he is thinking about.”[/pullquote]
According to Eric Pincus from the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers can sign Bryant to an extension “starting as low as $1.4 million to as high as $32.7 million.”
Meanwhile, Anthony has stated that he will opt-out of his contract next summer and become a free agent, though tonight on TNT he said that he wants to retire in New York.
If they choose to do so, the Lakers will be able to offer Carmelo a four-year max contract worth $95.9 million.