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Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak expects Kobe Bryant to return

Kobe Bryant will play on next season, according to Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

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Injured Los Angeles Lakers veteran Kobe Bryant is facing another extended stint on the sidelines but Mitch Kupchak does not expect the 36-year-old to retire.

Bryant is facing nine months out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder on Wednesday.

It is Bryant's third consecutive season-ending injury, having suffered a fracture in his left knee last season after returning from an Achilles injury sustained during the 2012-13 NBA season.

But Kupchak is confident Bryant, who is set to earn $25million in 2015-16, will continue playing into a 20th campaign.

"I don't think he's retiring," Kupchak said on Thursday.

"He said he's looking forward to training camp. That's what we expect.

"He'll be in a brace and it will be an awkward-looking brace.

"I think that would prevent him from doing anything for quite some time in terms of being able to use your lower body.

"But at some point in time, his shoulder will get to the point where he can jog and do treadmill and do things on the court. I'm not that concerned with the conditioning part of it."

The injury came after coach Byron Scott and the Lakers had attempted to reduce Bryant's minutes.

Bryant averaged 34.5 minutes in 35 games for the Lakers in 2014-15 but Kupchak denied extended playing time led to injury.

"I don't think that had anything to do with anything [and] certainly not the injury," he said.

Kupchak was also asked about how the Lakers could help Bryant next season.

The 60-year-old answered by saying the team's talent needs to improve, which will ultimately help the aging star deal with the NBA's nightly grind.

"As you get older and you experience injuries in this league - and he's played what will be 20 years - it's difficult to play when you're going to lose three or four games or five games," Kupchak said.

"When you're winning games, it's a lot easier to get ready to play and play through aches and pains. To me, a big part of Kobe's contribution next year is if we can improve this team during the off-season."

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