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Kobe Bryant Doesn't See Additional Contracts or Teams in His Future

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 10, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 9:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets on November 9, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

All professional sports careers have an expiration date, and Los Angeles Lakers megastar Kobe Bryant seems to have a good grasp on both the time and location of his.

The 36-year-old cannot envision himself on any other team, nor can he imagine extending his playing days beyond the limits of his current two-year contract.

"It's not going to happen," Bryant toldย USA Today's Sam Amick when asked about the possibility of switching teams. "It's not going to happen. You go through the good times, you've got to go through the bad times."

This is not a new sentiment for the Mamba.

He recently told Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, "I'm extremely loyal to the Lakers," and reaffirmed that commitment by adding, "I bleed purple and gold."

You could run those words under a microscope a thousand times and still not come up with any wiggle room. Bryant knows what he wants, and what he wants seems to be an NBA future in the same setting as his legendary past.

But that is not enough to stop the speculation that the combination of his ticking basketball clock and the Lakers' long road back to relevance could lead him to seek out greener pastures elsewhere.

"I still cannot see Kobe riding it out for two more years in L.A. no matter what he says,"ย Bulls.com's Sam Smith wrote. "They could get a little better next summer adding a free agent, but this is just the start of a long rebuilding process."

It would take a miracle to move Bryant before the end of his deal. Not only could that spell a public relations disaster for both parties, it also assumes a team would be willing to sacrifice assets for a 19-year veteran set to collect $48.5 million between this season and next.

A Bryant trade is not happening. But the idea of him eventually finding a new home in free agency has been harder to dismiss.

Of course, that means Bryant would have to want to continue playing after this contract expires. Amick asked if Bryant could see himself doing just that, and he responded it by saying, "Nah, not really."

He did leave some wiggle room there, as he should have. It's impossible for him to know where his mind and body will be two years from now.

He will need to see whether he is capable of still performing at a high level. His 26.5 points-per-game scoring average might suggest that he can, but those numbers lose some of their luster when combined with his 39.4 field-goal percentage and the Lakers' 1-5 record.

Besides, there is no guarantee those statistics will still appear the same in 2016.

So Bryant will have some questions to answer over the following two years. And considering how many people are willing to answer them for him, he will probably face the same inquiries over and over.

Some may never take his words at face value. But all of us should cherish his next seasons just in case he is telling the truth.

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