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Mitch Kupchak Confirms Lakers Want Kobe Bryant to Stay in LA for Entire Career

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers still aren't negotiating with Kobe Bryant on a contract extension, but it sure sounds like both parties are committed to staying together for the long haul.

According to the team's official Twitter feed, the Lakers want to make sure that Bryant never wears anything but purple and gold:

It's great that both the Lakers and Bryant are on the same page. Sentiment gets trampled by the NBA's financial realities sometimes, but it appears as though both parties care about preserving legacies.

At the same time, there are endless questions about the wisdom of keeping Bryant around. How much will it cost? How many more years should the team invest in a 35-year-old player coming off an injury from which few recover? Will a marquee free agent even want to play alongside No. 24 during the twilight of his career?

And most critically: When will Bryant even be able to get back on the court?

Kupchak wasn't totally clear on a return date, but we now know it won't be particularly soon.

Assuming the Lakers can reach a fair deal with Bryant, they're going to have to contend with his indomitable will to return. By making an investment in him over a two- or three-year span, the Lakers will need to monitor his comeback to make sure he doesn't push himself too hard.

Nothing would be worse than a newly signed Bryant suffering another injury because he rushed back too quickly.

And going forward, they'll have to limit his minutes to assure that they get the most out of him for the life of whatever contract he signs. As everyone knows, it's not going to be easy to protect Bryant from himself. The guy doesn't have a dimmer switch.

Both Bryant and the Lakers have their hearts in the right place, but they'll each have to use their heads to make sure their relationship works out for the best.

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