At 36, Kobe Bryant is an aging veteran with an uncertain future. Kobe may have signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers last November, but he’s coming off consecutive season-ending injuries.
The five-time NBA champion is as confident as ever that he’ll return to elite form next season after two disappointing seasons. Unfortunately, not many feel the same way about Kobe’s immediate future with the consensus being that his best days on the basketball floor are behind him.
Along with potentially no longer being among the elite in the NBA, Kobe’s trade value has plummeted, according to an unnamed NBA GM via Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated:
Seven months after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon—and three weeks before he fractured his left kneecap—Bryant signed a $48.5 million, two-year deal. The contract, widely derided as the worst in the game, makes Bryant nearly impossible to move, even were the Lakers to try. Asked about Kobe’s value on the market, one GM answers definitively: “Zero. Look at that number. Who takes him?”
This is by design, of course. It ensures that Bryant accomplishes something very few pro athletes have: playing an entire career with one team. Bryant’s plan is to retire in two years, though he says he reserves the right to change his mind. Thus one of the game’s greatest players and one of its two fiercest competitors — Michael Jordan being the other — will likely exit the league laboring for an undermanned squad in a stacked conference.
Kobe is heading into his 19th NBA season after missing the majority of last year with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe hasn’t played a single game in 2014 after suffering a knee injury last December only six games after returning from surgery on torn Achilles tendon.
The Lakers trading Kobe at this point in his career seems a bit ridiculous. Kobe has mentioned time and time again that he intends to finish his career with the Lakers and has no desire to go elsewhere. Of course, the itch to win another title may change that, but he’s basically untradeable.
With the superstar set to be paid $23.5 million next season and $25 million the year after, finding a trade partner or a team that Kobe would be willing to waive his no trade clause for is highly unlikely.
Needless to say, Kobe isn’t going anywhere making him one of the few prominent players in NBA history to remain with the same team throughout his entire career. If Kobe’s career isn’t shortened by another serious injury, the future Hall of Famer will have played 20 years in purple and gold and will have serious consideration as arguably the greatest Laker of all time.
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