Kobe Bryant isn't prepared to take a massive pay cut next summer, but doesn't think that his desire to negotiate the best deal possible will affect his return to the Lakers. Kobe tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he intends to wait until the dust settles on the Lakers' other offseason moves before broaching the subject of an extension, while Shelburne notes that the Lakers' plans to approach Kobe on the same topic had been tabled until he gets further along on his Achilles rehab.
In addition to talking to Shelburne, Bryant also participated in a Q&A with Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times. Here are a few of the highlights from that conversation:
On how his Achilles rehab is progressing:
"I'm far ahead, far ahead. Surprisingly so, but really ahead of schedule."
On whether he was disappointed that Dwight Howard didn't re-sign with the Lakers:
"No, I was pretty dead center. It's his decision and whichever path he goes, I know this organization is going to figure out the best thing going forward. One way or the other, it just seems like this is one of the franchises that always lands on its feet. So whatever happens, is what was supposed to happen."
On observers who believe 2013/14 could be a wasted year for the Lakers:
"Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. We don't know. That's the beauty of competition. That's the beauty of trying to prove people wrong. Maybe they're right, maybe they aren't, but we're going to try and shut them up."
On how much longer he hopes to continue playing before retirement:
"I've always kind of said that it's nearing the end, and this is the last chapter, and it is. How many pages in that last chapter, I don't know. But it's definitely the last chapter. I've been rejuvenated somewhat by the injury and inspired by watching what San Antonio was able to accomplish this year, so I'm ready to go for at least another three."
On what the Lakers need to do to return to championship contention:
"I think just adding the right pieces. We got certain guys on the team that do things very well and we have certain holes [where] we're lacking that we need to shore up in terms of length and speed and shooting. If we can do that with a couple of guys, obviously Ryan Kelly is a big addition, if we can find a couple of guys who have length and speed, we'll be fine."