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Kobe Bryant's future is unclear.
Kobe Bryant's future is foggy at best, as the combination of his ruptured Achilles tendon and the uncertainty surrounding Los Angeles' roster is troubling.
Dwight Howard is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and could walk away leaving the Lakers uncompensated.
Pau Gasol struggled through the majority of the regular season and is a prime trade candidate because he is a talented big man who only has one more year left on his contract.
Steve Nash couldn't stay healthy, and it appears as if age has finally caught up to him. Also, the Lakers won't have any cap space due in part to Bryant's monster salary.
The Lakers roster is in disarray in a tough conference, with only Bryant and their market keeping them relevant.
As the Lakers proved all season long, they will draw more headlines than virtually any other team. That won't change, especially as the outspoken Bryant continues to rehab and Howard decides where he wants to play basketball next season.
When asked if he would be ready for the season opener, Bryant said the following according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
I hope so. That's the challenge. With the tendon, there's really only but so much you can do. There's a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don't overstretch it and now you never get that spring back
Even if Bryant is ready for the opener, his presence alone doesn't make the Lakers a legitimate championship contender. Prior to the injury, the Lakers were battling for the seventh seed in the Western Conference, so it wasn't as if Bryant's injury ruined a deep playoff run.
Bryant's Achilles injury appears to have given the Black Mamba the desire to play longer, as he claimed that the next season could potentially be his last before getting hurt.
That isn't likely to be the case anymore, though. According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Bryant said the following in an interview on ESPN Radio:
My goal is to win more than five. If Duncan 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.
The reality of the situation is that a ruptured Achilles tendon is a serious injury for any athlete, let alone a shooting guard set to enter his 17th season in the NBA.
Bryant is one of the most recognizable athletes in American sports, which means anything he says is automatically relevant news. So while lesser athletes could slip by while making meager comments, that isn't an option for Kobe.
Everything the Black Mamba says will be a featured story, which is probably exactly what Bryant wants during this pivotal summer.