(The Sports Xchange) - Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s highest-paid player based on his 2016 salary, has reportedly turned down a pitch from European club FC Barcelona to extend his basketball career overseas.
Bryant, whose salary this season is $25 million, lived in Europe for eight years and has made many trips to Barcelona.
According to Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Bryant turned down an offer from the team to end his basketball career overseas, possibly as a team mate of Bulls center Pau Gasol, who he played alongside during the Lakers’ NBA title runs in 2009 and 2010.
Bryant announced before this season that his 20th season would be his last. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers, with whom he played his entire NBA career.
In 72 games this season, Bryant is averaging 16.6 points per game. He admits the game became a physical struggle, especially because of a chronic shoulder issue and general leg soreness.
Bryant played in 41 total games the two previous seasons because of shoulder and leg injuries that required surgery. He ruptured his Achilles and tore the labrum in his shoulder.
Now aged 37, Bryant said he plans to be operating as a businessman by his 38th birthday in August.
Bryant’s final NBA game will be on April 13 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles against the Utah Jazz.
Spaniard Gasol turns 36 at the start of free agency and he is likely to be on the open market after two seasons in Chicago. Gasol holds a player option for 2016-17 worth $7.7 million and it is expected to be declined.
He is from Barcelona and could consider finishing his career overseas.
Neither player commented on the report.
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes