As the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans prepare for next season, All-Star Kobe Bryant has revealed some fortunate news about his plans for his future and eventual retirement.
The Los Angeles Times is has reported that Bryant, whose deal expires after this season, spoke to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio about the possibility of San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan tying him with five NBA titles, and how it may impact his future with the team.
"My goal is to win more than five," said Bryant. "If he does win five, hopefully that pushes our organization upstairs to be even more determined and more driven to make the necessary expenses to make sure we continue the next year and the year after that."
As Bryant continues his recovery from an April 13 surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon, he continues to speak highly of the possibility of next season.
"I'd love to see us pick up next season where we left off this season prior to these injuries," Bryant said. "We were playing some good basketball -- things were flowing. We'll have to make some adjustments in terms of getting a little longer, having a couple of guys on the floor who can cover ground, and cover ground quickly. If we do those things, I like our chances."
Although Bryant continues to be optimistic about next season, TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley didn't share the same level of optimism about what Bryant will be able to do following his Achilles tear.
"I think he can be a good player. That's it. Is he going to be an All-Star? He'll probably be an All-Star because the fans will vote him in. But as far as being a dominant player, that's not going to happen."
Though the news of Bryant's recovery continues to be a positive light for the Lakers, they're still dealing with the likelihood that they may lose center Dwight Howard to free agency this offseason.
The loss of Howard is surely not something the Lakers want to have in their future, but Bryant respects his want to see what other teams are willing to offer.
"For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be," Bryant said to ESPNLA.com. "We all want him here. But then that's when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don't start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.
"I'll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word."