Kobe Bryant is eyeing a triumphant return from his Achilles injury next season, and would like to have "two more cracks at it to win seven NBA titles at least," a source tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Bryant, who has won five championships, said shortly before he suffered his torn Achilles that he would decide on his future this summer.
Bryant had indicated in the past that 2013/14 could be his final season, but the latest news piggybacks on remarks he made about a week ago suggesting he wants to extend his career beyond next season. The 17-year veteran will make a league-high $30,453,805 in 2013/14, the final season of his contract.
Before he got hurt, the Lakers were planning to discuss an extension with Bryant, but the injury has complicated that situation, Shelburne reports, adding that the team is nonetheless "determined to treat Bryant well." He's eligible for an extension that would give him a 7.5% raise in year one and run through 2017, for a total of $105,763,686, but such a large sum would make it difficult for the Lakers to surround him with the talent necessary to win the additional championships he seeks.
It's more likely Bryant's next contract will come at a discount, but just how much of a paycut he'll take will be a matter of intriguing negotation beginning as early as this summer. Both team and player may want to wait until next summer to determine how Bryant performs after the injury, though that's just my speculation.