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Kobe says he plans to stay with Lakers, not opt out

Posted Jun 21 2009 7:57PM

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Kobe Bryant said he plans to stay with the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and won't opt out of his contract this summer. Phil Jackson said his health will dictate whether he returns as coach.

Bryant met with Jackson and general manager Mitch Kupchak for an individual exit interview Friday.

The Finals MVP can terminate the last two years of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He's spent his entire 13-year career with the Lakers, winning four NBA championships. going to stop now."

Pressed to explain, he responded, "I'm not going anywhere. I know I ain't going nowhere, so it's just a waste of our breaths just talking about it."

Bryant turns 31 in August. He averaged 32.4 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds during The Finals, when the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in five games.

Kupchak met with reporters before Bryant did and said, "We have no indication of what he may or may not do."

Jackson, who turns 64 in September, said he'll decide about next season after he gets some health issues checked out.

This season, he missed two West Coast road games because of pain and swelling in his lower legs caused by plantar fasciitis, an issue "that concerned me a little bit," he said. He blamed late-night flights that aggravated the condition.

He has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 -- using a cane at various times -- and walks with a noticeable hitch in his step.

"I'm feeling good," Jackson said.

He signed a two-year contract extension last season and holds the option on a second year. The contract contains a date by which he is required to tell the Lakers of his intention to return, but Kupchak said the team is willing to give Jackson the time he needs to see a doctor.

"That date is fast approaching next week," Kupchak said. "We're talking about hopefully getting him to indicate to us in the next week or two or three his decision."

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