Kobe Bryant: 'I've got enough to think about' other than retirement

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant will face the question on an almost daily basis over the next seven months.

Will this be his final NBA season?

It's the most dominant storyline surrounding the team and Bryant, who at 37 is entering his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers, an NBA record for the most seasons a player has spent with one franchise. And it was the main topic Bryant faced time and again during the team's media day, held Monday at its practice facility.

Bryant repeated the same message he has delivered all offseason, saying he has not made a decision and that he's not sure what will ultimately sway him one way or the other.

"If it is, it is," Bryant said. "If it isn't, I'll be ready for next season. I don't spend too much time thinking about it. I've got enough to think about."

Bryant has spent the past nine months recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury that ended his 2014-15 season after just 35 games.

It also marked his third consecutive season ended by injury.

"I'm excited to be back on the court," Bryant said Monday. "I'm excited to be out there with the young players who are starting their careers, starting their journeys. I'm excited to help them out and kind of show them things I've learned. I'm as excited for this season as I've been in a long time."

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, who coached Bryant for 11 years and to five championships with the Lakers, recently said he believes Bryant could play beyond this season.

"I don't think it's his last year," Jackson said at a Knicks news conference last week. "It sounds like it may be his last year as a Laker."

Said Bryant, "Everybody is going to have opinions. I can't comment on every single opinion that everybody makes, even if it's a coach that I won so many championships with and know extremely well. It's still his opinion. There will be many others."

What will be the biggest factor in his decision?

"Honestly, I don't know," Bryant said. "I've thought about it a little bit in terms of, what is the deciding factor? How do players actually know when it's time to hang them up, truly? Everybody kind of gives [the media] the standard cookie-cutter answers -- relaxing, golfing, spending time with the family, things like that. But, really, how do you truly know? And I don't know. I'll have a much better answer when that time comes for me."

Bryant said he has talked with other players about what they went through, including former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who retired after last season.

"We joke. He and I couldn't be any more opposite with personalities," Bryant said. "It's fun just kind of hearing his perspective and what he went through and kind of what triggered the decision for him to step away from the game. I don't know what that's going to be for me."

In other words, Bryant said he doesn't want a farewell tour.

"I couldn't do that," he said.

Bryant said it's not a distraction to hear speculation about his future.

"It could get to become a pain in the ass, but when I sit back and think about it, it's actually cool, because it means that you've had a really good career and people want to know when the time is coming for you to hang 'em up," Bryant said. "Like me, don't like me, [but people] respect the career that I've had. I think that's a pretty damn cool thing."