Contrary to what you may have heard, the Los Angeles Lakers DO NOT plan on letting Kobe Bryant test the free agent market. While becoming a free agent is a dream come true for some players, Bryant has repeatedly made it clear that he "fully intends to retire as a Laker." So why would the Black Mamba waste his time or the organzation's time looking elsewhere?

Late last night, Lakers VP of basketball operations Jim Buss put to rest any rumors of Kobe and his desire to explore free agency next summer.   

"I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent," Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday night. "That's not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He's a Laker legend and always will be. I don't think we're done winning championships with him yet.

"[Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak and [Bryant's agent] Rob Pelinka have been talking, but with him being hurt, it has slowed the process some. I don't know when it'll get done, but I have faith in Rob and Mitch to work things out."

It seems that the main issue between the two sides will be how much Kobe will earn for next season and beyond. Back in July, Bryant admitted that "as a businessman, the goal is always to not take a pay cut," but he still kept the door open to the possibility of taking a pay cut.    

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[via ESPN]