After scoring a game-high 42 points in the Game 5 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant let it be known that he has no intention of slowing down or fading away as one of the premier players in the NBA.
Kobe responded with the following after being asked about his future with the Lakers via Reid Cherner of USA Today:
“I’m not fading into the shadows, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not going anywhere…We’re not going anywhere. It’s not one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappeared forever. I’m not going for that (stuff).”
This is about as typical as it gets in terms of a response from Kobe about his future and the state of the Lakers franchise. With the five-time NBA champion putting up 40+ points in series-clincher on Monday night, there’s no sign of the superstar’s skills declining. In fact, it’s just the opposite as it appears that Kobe might have a few more years left in his 33-year-old legs playing at an MVP-caliber level in the league.
The real question moving forward for the Lakers is whether or not GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers Executive VP Jim Buss can surround Kobe with the talent that can transform this team back into a perennial NBA title contender.
After being knocked out of the playoffs by the Thunder, the Lakers’ front office will have some tough decisions to make in the offseason. There will be many questions about the immediate future of the franchise and whether or not a trade could be in the works involving Pau Gasol and or Andrew Bynum.
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