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Kobe Bryant says he plans to return, play for Lakers this season

Feb 10, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden Getty Images

If the season ended today, the Lakers would have the seven or eight pick (they are tied with Cleveland, there would be a coin flip). They are also currently 12 games back of the eight seed and the playoffs in the West, ground they are not going to make up.

Those facts have a lot of Lakers’ fans in full tank mode — just as their team is getting healthy (Steve Nash and Steve Blake are back) and won two of three the fans want to see the Lakers lose and lose a lot. They want a top five pick. Lakers fans are just fine if Kobe Bryant doesn’t return until next season.

Too bad, he’s planning to come back.

That’s what Bryant told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday.

“My plan hasn’t changed,” Bryant said Sunday at an event to promote his newest signature sneaker, the Nike Kobe 9 Elite Masterpiece. “I’m just going about it every single day just trying to get better. That’s my job. My job is to get my butt back out there on the court when I’m healthy enough to play and that hasn’t changed.”

After working hard to return from his ruptured Achilles, Bryant played just six games before he suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee. He has been out since Dec. 17 and will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.

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When will he return?

“That I don’t know,” Bryant said. “It’s completely out of my control. I really got to sit here and just wait until this thing heals up and then go out there and do what I do.”

With or without Bryant the Lakers will not be good. There is wisdom in what the fans want with tanking, and that’s one reason the Lakers will try to be sellers with the contract of Pau Gasol among others drawing interest.

But the Lakers will not fully go there and embrace being bad to get good, it’s not in their organization’s nature. Bryant and Nash (who looked pretty good until he aggravated his injury again Sunday) will get their chances this season. And combined this Lakers roster is just good enough to push this team up to about the 10 seed. Which should frustrate fans.

  1. asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    You have to wonder if the Cavs could even win that coin flip at this point.

  2. sportsfan18 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I’ve been saying that Kobe wants to come back and play even if it costs the teams draft pick to be several slots worse. Just like he resigned for so much money, he has points to score. He’s close to passing MJ, which he HAS to do, but he also wants to be the all time points leader too.

    Missing so much of this season is killing him on that front. He has two yrs on his most recent contract but he’ll have to play beyond that to get the scoring record.

    Missing so much of this season has most likely cost him his chance of becoming the all time leading scorer. He had a good chance had he played all season this year.

    Of course, we don’t know how his body will hold up upon his return and if it does, how it will hold up 2 and 3 seasons from now.

    As some Laker fans have told me on another thread, the Lakers are NOT winning a title in the next two seasons, Kobe is now just riding out the end of his career. No more titles, no scoring record etc…

    Please let the Lakers sign Melo somehow this coming summer (that way they’ll not win a title as Melo will retire without a title).

  3. joroberts10 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    By the time Kobe comes back I think Pau will be gone, and you know another group of guys will go down for them this year. Lakers are going to stay right around the 6-8 pick all year. I mean some of those teams in the East have to start winning one of these days

  4. aboogy123456 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Laker fans, how important do you think it is for the lakers to try to win a championship in the next two years with kobe? I for one want to see them try to re-sign gasol and go all in for the next couple years, because I want to see Kobe get one more ship. People will point to number of championships when Kobe goes down in history, and say that Jordan was clearly better, but at the same time will forget that Kobe had to rebuild multiple times, and is doing so again now. I would like to see him win one more for his own legacy, and it’s unlikely but it’s definitely possible. We’ve been lucky to have arguably the greatest player ever for the last two decades.

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      If Kobe and the team wanted the best shot to win another championship, having another $12 million or so to spend on other quality players to put around Kobe would have been what they should have done. Kobe could have played for $12 million a year instead of $24 million (ish) per season.

      No one may say the Lakers chances are better with having $12 million or so LESS to spend on their roster than if Kobe had resinged for less and they had another $12 million or so to spend putting quality players around Kobe.

      Both Kobe and the Lakers say championships are what it is about, yet they both took action that lessens their chances at a title in the next two seasons.

      I wrote this on other threads and Lakers fans said they know they aren’t winning a championship in the next two seasons. At least they have their eyes wide open because they are a long way away from winning a championship.

      Having Nash retire (I don’t profess to know what will happen to his salary) and not play next season would be a great help as long as his salary of over $9 million doesn’t count.

  5. aboogy123456 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Laker fans, how important do you think it is for the lakers to go all in and try to win a championship in the next two years with kobe?

  6. pbtunpaidwriter - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    One thing is for sure – they’re going to get a franchise player (for cheap). If Kobe wants to win again, it’s looking pretty good. With 1 BIG FA signing, the draft pick and a couple pieces, they can be a top 4-5 seed in the West.

    It’s all in for Kobe, just 2 years left and the Mamba’s really out.

    • mickdamill - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Which big FA is going to want to go to the Lakers for cheap? No star is going to want to sit in the passenger seat as an aging Kobe tries to will the team to win. As long as Kobe is there, it’s his team and the ball is in his hands. LA’s best chance for landing a quality player is in the draft.

    • antistratfordian - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      He’s already out, he just doesn’t know it yet.

      • aboogy123456 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        If Kobe doesn’t know it, how do you know it?

      • antistratfordian - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        I’m far more intelligent than Kobe.

      • Professor Fate - Feb 10, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        Of course you are, because you’re here talking about Bryant and he’s….what, hanging out in his mansion? Cruising down to Spago’s in his Ferrari for a brunch with his business/financial manager about another acquisition/investment?

        Sometimes I wish I could live my life with the level of delusion you display, but then I see a narcissistic comment like that and realize how asinine that would be.

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        Kobe actually drives an Aventador not a Ferrari. Matte black. Sooo sick! His wife has the world’s only automatic Murcielago lol.

  7. billtetley53 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    4-5 seed? The delusion of lakers fans knows no bounds!

    What big name free agent is leaving $ on the table?

    Good Lord.

    • kb2408 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      @billbitely53…ever heard of Kevin Love? 6′ 10″ white dude, went to UCLA, loves the LAKERS and Cali, shoots the 3 like a guard and rebounds like a demon. Ever hear of him? And when he is able to leave Minny he won’t have to “leave $ on the table” to join the LAKERS. Considering the LAKERS are 6-7 now, is falling a couple more spots all that far fetched? I think not, sir.

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Love leaving Minnesota is not as far fetched as people make it seem like. This was supposed to be the year Minny finally took the step forward and made the playoffs. Even with relatively good health, they are under .500 and 6 games out of the playoffs. Rubio’s development hasn’t been as great as many had hoped. I can easily see why Love would potentially want to leave Minnesota. There’s still a couple years till he can do that, but when he becomes a free agent, he will have a lot of teams after him, including the Lakers.

      • mickdamill - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        I know you are saying the Lakers are 6-7 seed now, are you? lol

      • kb2408 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        @asi88….it is a forgone conclusion that Love will leave Minny. By the time Love is a free agent he will probably have 5-7 “prime” years left to chase a title, he ain’t doing it with Minny. He’s going to L.A. The LAKERS are going to make him the face of the franchise after Kobe retires. And he won’t be the only star coming to L.A. Mark it down!

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      @billbitely53: If they play their cards right, they can be a top 5 seed. I’m not a Kobe fan.

      The Lakers can get anyone from Randle, Exum, Smart, Vonleh or maybe even Parker or Wiggins at best. Who knows. Then they’ll have Kobe, Nash (retiring?) and a bunch of shooters from this year.

      As far as FAs: Bosh, Deng, Monroe, etc. can possibly join LA with other lower tier FAs. When healthy the Lakers were about .500. Top 4 or 5 is very realistic.

      Buss and Kupchak are going to go all out for Kobe. In 2015, all the signs point to K-Lo coming to LA.

  8. kb2408 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Kobe needs to chill for the rest of this season but it’s just not in his DNA. He is a very polarizing figure but the dude must be respected for the dedication he has for his craft. People forget that coming into the league Kobe wasn’t viewed as a “can’t miss” prospect like an LBJ or a Mitchell Wiggins. Thank Goodness for the Logo and Dr. Buss for seeing something others did not see. Kobe worked his butt off to become one of the all-time greats to ever play, so to expect him to just sit back and collect his paycheck is probably not gonna happen. It just ticks me off that in one of the LAKERS worse seasons ever, the East sucks so bad. I want a top 3 pick darn it!!

  9. harshedmellow - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    LakerFan just cracks me up. I want some of what they are smoking! The Eternal Optimism of the Delusional Fanboy, lol.

    Kobe literally on his last legs and a talented ROOKIE do not make the a 4-5 seed in the West. And someone mentioned NASH in a couple years?! Are. You. Not. Paying. Attention?

    #LakerDecadeofFutility

    • kb2408 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Your comment just shows how misguided you are. Next season will probably be another sub-par season, by LAKERS standards. However, potentially adding a top 5 pick this season AND being able to offer the keys to the most glamorous and high profile franchise in the NBA to an elite free agent after Kobe leaves in two seasons does not equal long term futility. LAKER haters call us LAKER fans delusional but at least we have history on her side to base our opinions on. All the haters have is wishful thinking.

    • mytthor - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      I’l be the first Laker fan to admit that several things need to change and/or go right for them to improve drastically next year. But your point about Kobe is silly – last year before the injury was one of his best seasons yet. While we can’t know how well he is going to comeback, there’ no indication his skills have dipped.

  10. billtetley53 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Ugh, just ugh. Do you really think Flip Saunders is dumb enough to let him walk away for nothing? Dont answer, its a rhetorical question.

    History on your side means nothing, you STILL dont get the cba landscape has changed. KB, its mind numbing how ignorant you are.

    The Lakers cannot do business like they used to. Love can sign with Minnesota for more money and years than he could in L.A. How do you make it through a day, seriously?

    When Kobe comes back, do you realky think he is going to play to lose? i would hop you know better than that, then again, you havent had any ptoblems showing your ignorance prior to now.
    If Love isnt going to re sign wotb the Wolves, he will be TRADED the lakers dont have the assets to pick him up.

    Kobe+Top 10 pick + 1 second tier fa + d league roster = stinkaroo. This franchise has seen its last title for wuite some time.

    Quit making predictions, youre wrong 95% of the time.

    • musician0785 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      “History on your side means nothing”
      …..Says the guy who is a fan of a team who probably doesnt have history on their side….

  11. topdawg4ever - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Well of course Kobe wants to come back this season- afterall it’s ALL about HIM and not his team, right?

  12. unxpexted1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    I do agree with KB in the sense that 2015 will probably be the year that the Lakers make the one last push in the Kobe era. The Lakers have not been the best at drafting talent but we’ve never had to draft this high, so i’m hoping we wont mess up potentially a top 5 pick at worse. One pretty solid free agent like deng or Randolph (even though he wont fit if we keep d’antoni), and going balls out for Love who “sources” say have expressed interest. The lakers have pretty decent players right now and before being decimated by injuries people forget were playing .500 basketball. I’m not sure if it will be enough, but it will be a push for Kobe and also a good look for the future. I hope we keep kendall marshall too, i really like that kid.

    • kb2408 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      I like Kendall too, he is a diamond in the rough. Sometimes dudes just take a few seasons to develop (see: Chauncey Billups). But unexpected1, as much as I love Kobe, it’s not about him anymore. At least, not in the sense of getting him another ring. I honestly believe that the LAKERS accepted that we probably won’t win a title in the next two years when they gave Kobe the extension. The next two years are the Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour. The team will still be decent and the fans will still have something to go to the Staples for. But big changes are on the horizon, my friend. In 2 seasons Kobe will retire, Mike D will be kicked to the curb and the keys to the franchise will be handed to another star. As for the LAKERS history of drafting high, they have had very high picks before…Magic and Worthy were number 1’s overall. If I’m not mistaken I don’t recall a top 5 pick since then.

  13. 1forest1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    As long as Nash and Kobe are on the books they are never going to be a contender. Kobe needed help in his prime. No superstar will abandon their team to join Kobe and Nash. Enjoy these two years laker fans

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      I will! They say your mid-20s are the best years.

  14. lakerade - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    As I browse through the comments, I can tell who the Laker fans are and even moreso the Laker haters, but nary a mention of which teams those haters prefer. Interesting. Go Lakers!

  15. ovadosin - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    For some reason I can see the ping pong balls favoring the Lakers for a top 3 pick in the draft.Like they say the NBA is better when teams like the Lakers and Celtics are winning.

  16. billtetley53 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Dummy(kb2408) The Wolves will train him long before theyd let him leave w/o compensation. GMS arent fanboys like yourself. Youre failure to acknowledge that the nba landscape changed with the latest cba.
    History doesnt mean much anymore regarding player movement, when its not the same as it used to be.
    Lakerade:
    Im not a laker hater, im a laker fan hater.
    kb, alias lakerluver is the primary reason for that, thank him.
    The absolute unwillingness to lrarn anything, the over the top homerism and lack of objectivity regardong the team is enraging. Hes 40 years old and acts like a star struck teenage girl.
    Im a Kevin Garnett fan, so im a Nets fan this year. Theyll be in the playoffs, how about your Lakers?

    • bjswoosh805 - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      oh you silly,willy,billy(billtetley53), ofcourse your Nets are making it in the horrendous, weak Eastern Conf. playoffs. but good for them and you!! oh and i gotta question for you what if, just what if Kevin Garnett was a Laker, would you hate your self?

  17. billtetley53 - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Fortunately, he had the good taste not to want to plsy for your delusional fanbase.

    Go back to cheering for a high draft pick.

    Oh how the mighty have fallen.

    • musician0785 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      And you are cheering for what exactly? The 7th seed in a HORRIBLE conference? A healthy Deron Williams? A New Coach? Now it makes sense that a Nets fan would say

      “History on your side means nothing”

      Because the Nets have No History

    • bjswoosh805 - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      ouch “delusional fanbase” easy there bud, i was just simply being honest abt the eastern conference and abt my question it was jst out of curiosity. no hard feelings ok, to make it up to you i’ll say that KG is one the greatest power forward to ever play the game. All i got is respect for the BIG ticket.

  18. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    Yeah, that sounds about right. Strangle the team financially with your extension, then come back and play well enough to screw up their draft position.
    For a while there I was starting to regain some respect for Kobe. Wave bye-bye to that (not that he cares).

  19. billtetley53 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    musician: Are you really that dense? Im afraid you are, surprise, surprise.

    What part of I’m a KEVIN GARNETT fan dont you comprehend?!

    Im a Nets fan THIS YEAR. I was a Celtics fan prior to that and a TWolves fan before that.
    In the NBA, i follow players, not a team.

    Way to focus on a point of my post that you painfully misread in 2 parts.

    You should just stick to whining about trolls, you obviously have a reading comorehension issue, and you know nothing about basketball.

  20. billtetley53 - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    not mad at all bj, im just being honest about the LA fanbase(a majority of you)

    no harfd feelings here either. Sorry i blew up.

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