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Kobe Bryant likely retiring after 2016, Mitch Kupchak says

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Is Kobe Bryant retiring when his contract expires? It depends who you ask, but Mitch Kupchak thinks so.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are expecting Kobe Bryant to retire once his contract expires, according to an interview Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak gave NBA.com's David Aldridge. Kobe's retirement has been a point of discussion this season, but Kupchak said the time to watch Kobe live is now.

"All indications are, to me, from him, that this (two-year contract) is going to be it," Kupchak said. "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."

This is contrary to what Lakers head coach Byron Scott said, who thinks he can lure Kobe Bryant back beyond his current contract if the Lakers are competitive. Kobe, meanwhile, has been coy about the subject, recently telling media he'll continue playing if he "feels like" playing.

Kobe's retirement is going to be a huge moment for the Lakers, and the NBA, but the 36-year-old superstar is still grinding it out as the NBA's leading scorer. Two injuries haven't kept him down, but a bad Lakers team can make the process difficult to maintain. His plans will surely become clearer as his contract gets closer to ending, but there's still more than a season-and-a-half to get through before the Black Mamba has to make any decision on his future.