Lakers have massive salary cap space next summer

Bryant is entering the last nine months of his contract, a season worth $30.45 million before he can become a free agent in July.

He has known only one team in his 17-year career and often says he’ll be a Laker for life, but will that be the case?

The Lakers haven’t opened contract negotiations with Bryant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, taking a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury.

Bryant, 35, has done incredible things for the franchise, pushing it to five championships and two other NBA Finals appearances in his 17 seasons. His jersey is continually among the league’s top sellers, his first name easily recognizable even with non-sports fans.

But the Lakers are already salivating over their salary-cap space next summer. Only Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Nick Young are on the books for 2014-15, meaning a spending spree awaits with potential free agents LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Luol Deng, Dirk Nowitzki, Danny Granger and Marcin Gortat. Restricted free agents next July include Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe.

Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times