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Bryant wants to stay with Lakers

KOBE Bryant said he plans to stay with the National Basketball Association champions Los Angeles Lakers even he if opts 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 on 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. He could get a new, longer deal if he opted out, but he wouldn't necessarily make more money.

Asked if he would opt out, he said, "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.

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 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 has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 .

"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 was required to tell the Lakers if he plans to return.


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