Kobe Bryant is not long for the NBA court. We have all been made aware of that in recent seasons as the Los Angeles Lakers veteran saw three straight campaigns end early through injury.
There has long been talk in the media, and in the stands of the Staples Center, that Bryant will call time on his illustrious career when his current two-year, $48.5 million deal ends after the 2015-16 campaign.
Now, though, a voice from the very top of the Lakers hierarchy has had his say on the situation. General Manager Mitch Kupchak offering a new insight into Kobe's thoughts.
Speaking to ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes, Kupchak revealed that the Black Mamba has eyes on retirement when next year's season is all said and done:
"He indicated to me that this is it...I think first and foremost, he's on the last year of a deal...There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don't think there will be."
After missing a mammoth 123 regular season games over the past two years, Kobe Bryant is undeniably on his way out of the game sooner rather than later.
Close to the end
With the Lakers not exactly looking like a team ready to challenge at the right end of the NBA standings in the next couple of years, and Bryant approaching his 37th birthday, it looks like the future Hall of Famer is focussing on getting himself fit for what may well be his final 82 games in the NBA.
"I talk to him from time to time ... and he is recovering. He's running. He's getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he's much closer to the end than to the beginning."
Bryant's much talked about $48.5 million deal will end in 2016 and there is next to no chance that he will look to opt to move on with another franchise.
With his body giving up on him, a Lakers team building for the future, and a host of stellar achievements behind him over 18 years in the pros, there would be plenty of even the most ardent Lakers fans who would accept his decision to bow out in 12 months time.
Lakers fans: Is it time for Kobe Bryant to say goodbye, and will he leave the team in capable hands? Have your say in the comments below...