Kobe Bryant would consider returning to the Lakers, he said Tuesday.
No, he’s not unretiring. It would be in a non-playing capacity.
“Me and the Buss family, we grew up together,” Bryant said, mentioning the Lakers’ owners. “Jeanie and Jimmy, they’ve known me since I was a kid. It would be an honor to help them make that transition and help them try to get back to the top.”
The Lakers have not had discussions with Bryant about staying with the team after his playing career. Furthermore, NBA rules prevent teams from striking post-career deals with current-day players because it would circumvent the salary cap.
But the Lakers would of course listen if Bryant asked to work for them after he retires, perhaps in a consultant’s role like Jerry West now has with Golden State.
Dodgers minority owner Magic Johnson went in a different direction Tuesday and said the Philadelphia 76ers should give Bryant an ownership stake, allowing him to revitalize his hometown team.
“If I’m Philly — if I’m the owners of the Sixers — I’m serious. I would pull him to the side right now and say, ‘Kobe, we will give you part-ownership of this team to be a part of our organization,’ ” Johnson said. “They need a guy like Kobe Bryant to turn that franchise, to help them turn it around.”
Bryant didn’t address the 76ers specifically but said team ownership would “maybe” be in his future.
“I haven’t really had a burning desire to look into it too much, but if I do, if I feel really passionate about it, that’s something I’ll dive into if I feel like I can be a part of a franchise and help the franchise grow,” he said before the Lakers played the 76ers.
Lakers forward Kobe Bryant goes by a leaping Nerlens Noel and makes a reverse layup.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd after a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
76ers post player Jahlil Okafor reacts during a game against the Lakers.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Former NBA player Julius Erving, left, and Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion High School coach Gregg Downer, third from left, present Bryant, second left, a framed jersey before a game against the 76ers.(Charles Fox / Associated Press)
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell (1) dribbles around a screen set by Kobe Bryant (24) on 76ers guard Nik Stauskas (11).(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers forward Kobe Bryant waits by the bench prior to a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, left, and forward Kobe Bryant, right, restrain the 76ers’ JaKarr Sampson after an altercation with Lakers center Roy Hibbert (not pictured).(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers’ aging star Kobe Bryant, right, is embraced by former NBA player Julius Erving before a game against the 76ers.(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson attempts a shot over 76ers forward Nerlens Noel during a game on Dec. 1.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
76ers center Jahlil Okafor shoots over Lakers power forward Brandon Bass.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
76ers’ forward Nerlens Noel (4) tries to shoot against Lakers’ defenders D’Angelo Russell (1), Julius Randle (30) and Roy Hibbert (17) during the first half.(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
Kobe Bryant practices his shot before a Dec. 1 game against the 76ers in Philadelphia.(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
76ers’ Jahlil Okafor (8), Jerami Grant (39) and Robert Covington (33) react after a timeout during a game against the Lakers.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Fans hold up Kobe Bryant signs before the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
76ers center Jahlil Okafor dribbles the ball base line against Lakers center Roy Hibbert.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
76ers guard T.J. McConnell drives past Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant ahead of a basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers.(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
76ers forward Jerami Grant blocks the shot of Lakers forward Metta World Peace.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
Lakers star Kobe Bryant smiles as he jogs to the bench during the first half.(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
Philadelphia fans hold up signs for Kobe Bryant during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.(Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)
The Lakers and Bryant have never had discussions about him becoming a minority owner of the team, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Johnson was allowed to purchase about 4% of the Lakers after retiring as a player, but that was described as a one-time offer by former owner Jerry Buss. Johnson sold his stake in 2010 to biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Bryant, 37, has plenty of options after his playing career ends. He already owns part of The Players’ Tribune, a website that posts articles from athletes’ point of view.
He announced last year he would start Kobe Inc., a sports-related company that had already invested in Body Armor sports beverages. James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Mike Trout of the Angels are among the pitchmen for the product.
Coaching might be the one thing Bryant won’t do. He said numerous times in the past that he didn’t have enough patience to make it happen.
“I mean, it’s going to take a while to get used to it,” he said. “I’m so used to getting out and playing and competing at a physical level. Now that transition must be made to focus in on things that really involve intellect … and how to make certain decisions. And I think I’ll be OK in terms of channeling it that way.”
He joked that he would find joy in his next career or “be a miserable old dude.”
Bresnahan reported from Philadelphia, Shaikin from Los Angeles.
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