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Lakers sign Kobe Bryant to two-year, $48.5 million contract extension

Nov 25, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

Kobe Bryant is going to finish his career a Los Angeles Laker — 20 seasons with the same team. That would be the longest single-team tenure in NBA history.

Monday morning the Lakers announced that Bryant — who has yet to play this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon — has signed a two-year extension with the team.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a released statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”

This does not come cheaply. At all.

Understand Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett became free agents then took salary cuts into the $10 million range.

For the Lakers this is the smart business move — Kobe Bryant the player is what fills the seats and the luxury boxes, what gets sponsors on board, what drives the team’s financial engine. Even at $48.5 million for two seasons, he’s a bargain.

But that salary is going to cut pretty deeply into who the Lakers will be able to bring in and put around Kobe Bryant. With Bryant’s new salary plus the stuff on the books (Steve Nash, for one) they should have about $22 million, enough to bring in a max free agent (if they can attract one).  It’s not simple. The need to deal with Pau Gasol and his contract this summer (he is a cap hold of $20 million until he signs with the Lakers or another team) and some of the other pieces to create that space. Unless they can bring Gasol back.

Whoever they bring in, for two more seasons in Los Angeles this is Kobe Bryant’s team.

  1. ryanrockzzz - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    I think this move by the Lakers is a bit puzzling on the surface. Granted, this seems to be the precursor to signing Melo’ or even Lebron next year. The problem is the sell to me. Kobe will still think it is his team, and it will be the Dwightmare drama all over again. I am not sure Lebron or Melo will want to deal with that nonsense when they can pick from 4-5 other contending options. It almost made more sense to just wait and do this later with Kobe. He’s a great player, but he could be done, no one knows. Putting over 20 million on the line is a lot to risk, even for a team like the Lakers.

  2. redbaronx - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    The Lakers should have waited until the end of the season to resign to get more of a realistic picture of when and what shape Kobe might return. If Kobe returns a halfway decent player, it’s OK to overpay. But if he has real trouble returning (or worse…), then the Lakers just stuck themselves with a debilitating contract.

  3. legend30 - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I’m not surprised Kobe didn’t take a paycut, but this basically means the Lakers can only sign one star this off-season. And I’m pretty sure Kobe wants them to re-sign Gasol. Things just got interesting… I thought they want to pair Kobe up with LeBron and Melo? Zero percent chance LeBron goes to L.A. now.

    • robones - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      You arrogant Lake fans think that you can blink and puff miraculous player moves! Are you for real thinking that there was a possibility of Lebron playing in LA? Seriouslyl??? This aint NBA 2k fool!

      LMAO! thank you for the laugh though.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        @Robones
        Legend is a Heat fan. “You arrogant Laker fans think that you can blink and puff miraculous player moves” Ppl said the same thing a few years back and than “Puff” Pau Gasol. 3 Final’s appearances and 2 Championship’s later. Not saying we can expect that again but, You never know!!

      • legend30 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        First off I’m a Heat fan. I never thought they were getting LeBron. Many people said they were targeting LeBron and Carmelo during the summer. Don’t get pissed off at me, the person to blame is guys like Stephen A. Smith and Chris Broussard who reports these rumors.

  4. spthegr8 - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    @Legend
    “Zero chance LeBron goes to L.A.now” I don’t think the percentage of LeBron going too L.A. was that high to begin with!!

    • legend30 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:06 PM

      I agree. I’ll say it again don’t blame me. Blame Stephen A. Smith and Chris Broussard for reporting these crazy rumors.

  5. chargerdillon - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    As a diehard Laker fan….. this move makes me wonder exactly why I’m a diehard Lakers fan….

    Most disappointing news for a franchise that used to live in the constant present and not the past.

    This unfortunately looks like what we will get with the legacy of Jim Buss.

    Jim’s father would never allow this to happen as it has.

  6. kinglorious - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Bittersweet.

  7. tsi431 - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    There is no benefit to him signing a $17-20 million dollar contract vs a $24 million. NBA players have two options, Max contracts or veteran minimums. They can get one more max and a bunch of veteran minimums, just like every other team.

    Now if he resigned for $10 million a year, it changes everything.

    • spursareold - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      San Antonio
      Duncan $10M
      Manu $7M

      Finals.

      There are MANY options besides MAX and vet min. Taking one of those options allows your front office to put talent around you that otherwise wouldn’t fit under the cap.

      I guess Bean gave up ring chasing for stats chasing.

      • unxpexted1 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        THe only difference here is how the talent in SA is acquired. They are masterful in the draft, so they rarely use their free money to “go and get” other players. THey use a different model, and a very effective one. Drafting is not one of the Lakers strong suits. We have to do it the money way.

    • sportsfan18 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      tsi431

      read this article from this very site from this past July about the Lakers cap space in 2014… it was before this huge amount that Kobe just signed for too.

      IF a team keeps 15 on their roster, it takes money. $4 to $7 million dollars is the difference you stated above.

      That amount pays for a lot of players on each team. No team has 4 or 5 LeBron’s or Kobe’s.

      Guys who are like the 9th to 15th guys on the roster don’t earn very much.

      The bottom EIGHT Lakers salaries this yr total about $6.2 million dollars.

      So another 6 to 7 million that Kobe would earn per what you said above would be enough money to pay for MORE than half of their ENTIRE squad.

      So YES it does matter if Kobe was paid $17 million vs. $24 million.

      http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/07/23/lakers-will-not-have-quite-as-much-2014-cap-space-as-some-think/

  8. emdawt - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    Lakers looked at the next two years and said there are no game changers. Wait until 2016 and make a run at Durant, Kevin Love, or Roy Hibbert. 2017 they can make a run at Westbrook.

    Lakers get to see a guy they took a chance on, drafted, and win championships for the franchise end his career in their jersey. That means something.

    • spursareold - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      You had Roy Hibbert already, and you traded him to Philly.

      • emdawt - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        The Lakers traded Bynum for the best center in the NBA for the past decade. It was the right trade but it didn’t work out.

  9. unxpexted1 - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    You know it just hit me, I dont think I’m as mad at this deal as I was when I first posted. I’m a Laker fan and I’m normally as realistic (relatively speaking) as a fan can be. I’ve never been under the impression that we were going to sign Melo or Lebron which are in my opinion the only people out next year that deserve max money. And if they were out we’d still have the money to afford them. THe only real way this hurts is if we were trying to sign TWO more max players, but those days are done anyway. THe Lakers payroll is really on reset for 2014. We have money and dont mid paying the luxury tax( at least historically). What is this REALLy stopping us from doing? Guess I’ll have to see. Plus if you look at the history of the Lakers big moves, most of them have come via trade moreso than free agency. SO while I would have loved Kobe to take less, maybe this doesn’t hurt as much for being a 2 year deal with the next realistic group of young free agents coming out in 2015 and 16.

    • redbaronx - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      @unexpexted1 – What you’re not considering is what if Kobe cannot play at all. Then this becomes money the Lakers blow up in smoke. There’s nothing wrong with overpaying your Hall of Fame player if your the Lakers, but they could have at least waited till the end of the season to bring Kobe down from his number in case he doesn’t play this season. The worst thing would be to pay for someone that isn’t going to play again. (See Mark Price, Washington Bullets)

      Kobe is going to look out for Kobe. He’s proven that much. He’s no Tim Duncan (who took the pay cut). Do Laker fans really want their team to ruin their chances of getting back on top with money spent and no return? Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re a fan of your team, the team is bigger than the player. Especially when the player tries to milk you for all you are worth…

  10. antistratfordian - Nov 25, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Can’t say this is a surprise. This type of bizarre, pathologically narcissistic behavior is expected from Kobe – though Lakers fans were secretly hoping (some not-so-secretly) that he’d change.

  11. mizatt - Nov 25, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    It will be 19 seasons, not 20. Somebody needs a fact checker

    • mizatt - Nov 25, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Nope, I’m dumb, it will indeed be 20

      • kingpimp1970 - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:38 AM

        Kobe Bryant hasn’t been with the Lakers for 19 or 20 years. OK, it’s 2013. 2013 minus 20 equal 1993, right? He was still in High School. He was drafted 1996. How is it 20 years if he was drafted 1996?

      • Kurt Helin - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        It will be 20 at the end of this contract.

        http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bryanko01.html

      • wkl21 - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        it will be 20 when the extension is over.

  12. lemfaxx - Nov 25, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Tsk tsk tsk…. Sad

  13. fearthehoody - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Kobe is still around? No one in LA cares! LA belongs to the Clippers! Clipper Nation, Arrived!

  14. omniusprime - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    This is bad news for both Kobe and the Lakers. Kobe has to know that the Lakers are not going to put a good team around him, the record he’ll attain is worthless and will be broken someday. For the Lakers it’s a tremendous waste of money to bring back an ancient Kobe for two more years instead of cutting him loose and trying to find the next new Laker superstar to build a championship team around. Once again that Moron Jerky Boy Jimmy has proven he’s not smart enough to build a championship team like his father did.

    As long as Trash Nash is hanging around wasting Laker money Kobe has no chance of ever winning another ring, Trash Nash is a total waste of money and skin. Same with Steve Flake and don’t get me started on what a waste Dumbtoni is. Sorry but the Lakers just aren’t the same team without Dr. Jerry Buss at the helm making the smart moves to win championships and that’s why I just don ‘t bother watching them this year.

    Fire Dumbtoni! Retire Trash Nash and Trade Steve Flake!

    • redbaronx - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      @omniusprime – You forgot Jim Buss…..If Jeanie Buss were running the team, I’m sure Mitch Kuptchak would have a freer hand. Jim Buss seems intent on doing things his way.

      Dr. Buss probably wouldn’t have paid Kobe that money, and if Kobe insisted on remaining a max player, I think he probably would have told Mitch to pull the trigger on a trade just like he did with Divac to get a 17 year old Kobe at the time.

  15. hazlydose - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    This may be bad for the on the court product of the Lakers, but this is a damn good business move. The amount of money that Kobe brings to the Lakers through jersey sales, tv appearances, and other things surely dwarf the two year contract extension. Plus, the Lakers want him to retire a Laker.

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