Mitch Kupchak Believes Kobe Bryant Will Retire When Contract Expires in 2016

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tailspin with nary an end in sight. Superstar Kobe Bryant is doing what he can to carry a lackluster squad in averaging 25.2 points per game, but his team is still 5-16 this season.      

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak believes Bryant won't be around to see another era of glory for the storied franchise.'s David Aldridge (h/t's Matt Moore) did an extended feature on the state of the Lakers, including what Kupchak said about Bryant's future.

"All indications are, to me, from [Bryant], that this (two-year contract) is going to be it," said Kupchak, per Aldridge. "If somebody's thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that. Don't wait. Do it this year."

Bryant is 36 and still playing at a high level. ESPN Stats & Info highlights the notable history he's bound to make:

Debate has raged on about Bryant's exorbitant contract, though, which has largely prohibited Kupchak and the front office from adding better pieces around the Black Mamba.

In Aldridge's feature, benched point guard Jeremy Lin believes the Lakers can still make the playoffs. Head coach Byron Scott hints that a swift turnaround is possible, suggesting L.A. can lure players to help due to the rich history of the franchise.

If Bryant truly wanted to match Michael Jordan not just as a scorer but also in adding his sixth NBA championship, perhaps he could have taken a little less money. Now, L.A. is just fighting for respect in a deep, competitive Western Conference.

The Lakers need a lottery pick in next year's draft, an All-Star-caliber player or both to link up with one of the most decorated professional sports organizations. Otherwise, Bryant's career is going to end on a low note—even if he goes out as a statistically prolific individual.

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