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Kobe says he’s “probably weeks” away from returning, talks new contract

Nov 26, 2013, 6:29 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards Getty Images

Kobe Bryant was in a good mood — of course if you just signed a new $48.5 million contract you would be too.

Bryant spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday since signing his new contract (the press conference was broadcast on Time Warner Sportsnet in Los Angeles). Kobe was in Washington with the Lakers, where they will take on the Wizards.

But even with the new deal he’s not getting back on the court immediately. Kobe said he feels strong but it will be “probably weeks” before his returns, adding he hasn’t felt he has his explosiveness back to where he wants it. The Lakers have a lighter schedule next week with three practices and he said that will give him a better idea of his timetable.

“I need more practices to measure it, test it, (to see if) some of the limitations I had in the first couple of practices come back and see if they are still there,” Bryant said. “If not, go from there.”

Kobe also knows he’s going to be on a bit of a minutes limit when he returns, and he’s good with that.

As for his contract, Kobe talked about his personal relationship with the Buss family and his loyalty to the Lakers organization. He reiterated that from his end there were no negotiations.

“We had no conversation whatsoever,” Bryant said. “The only number I saw was the one that I agreed to.”

Criticism of the deal from fans and media has been that it is too large — at $23.5 million next year and $25 million the final year it will cut into the ability of the Lakers to lure enough elite talent to play with Kobe to win him the sixth ring he so covets.

Not surprisingly, Bryant agrees with Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak that there is enough flexibility to make a deal.

“From what I saw absolutely (they can build a contender),” Bryant said. “I think the fans are, God bless them, they are fans and they have good intentions and a good spirit about it, but I don’t think they understand the cap, or strategically what the Lakers are trying to do better than the Lakers do. I think we’ll be alright.”

Kobe admitted that it would not likely have been a two-year extension if he hadn’t ruptured his Achilles, putting a new obstacle in his path and motivating him to keep going.

So is this his last contract?

“Probably.”

  1. thomaskouns - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    What happened to the, “I’ll start the season.”

  2. cmehustle - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Where are all of the idiots who said of course Kobe would start the first game of the season? Nothing can stop Kobe! Where are all of those guys at for this story??

  3. wingsfan97 - Nov 26, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    If the nba season was a lot shorter he would have played first game,but since it’s 82 games the beginning doesn’t matter as much as the the end.

  4. mogogo1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Problem is, Kobe doesn’t really seem to understand the cap, either. (Or, more likely, he’s gotten his and doesn’t really care.) With his making about $23 million next year, they’d need to dump some guys, including likely Nash, just to free up enough to sign a free agent to a max contract. And then they’d just barely have enough left over to sign somebody else to a midlevel exception. Even if Kobe comes back at his previous level of play, this is not a team that’s just a guy or two away from contending. They’ve effectively decided that having Kobe retire happy was more important than contending while he’s still playing.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 26, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      They have enough room to sign someone else to a max contract or at least very close to it, they just wouldn’t have a lot of room to sign much else than minimum players (salary and talent wise) after that. Which makes the likelihood of a max level player signing lower.

      Although that wasn’t very high to begin with, and the max level players available this offseason are unlikely to leave.

  5. ramrodmclean - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    Kobe is unnaturally competitive. Do you think he could live with himself if he took a loss to Jimmy Buss? He’d approach the negotiation like he would a game with the Heat. Like the crazy person he is.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      If he approached the negotiation like he did a game with the Heat he would’ve signed for 1.5 million a season.

      • ramrodmclean - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:24 PM

        I’m saying that within the context of a contract negotiation, I would consider getting the most money for your services a win. Kobe would never agree to take a pay cut, because he would consider that be losing. Kobe is also obsessively chasing a 6th title because he wants to match the accomplishments of MJ. And how much did MJ make the year he won his 6th title? 33 Million. MJ had his cake and ate it too. Why can’t Kobe?

      • antistratfordian - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:04 AM

        There’s different ways you can think about that – it’s not so much a “win” if your goal is ring #6. He did agree to a pay cut, though – just not much of one.

        And how much did MJ make the year he won his 6th title? 33 Million. MJ had his cake and ate it too. Why can’t Kobe?

        Well, there are a few things you’re not considering…

        1. Before MJ signed his first 1 year, $30 million contract (1 of 2) the most he’d ever made in salary in a single season was $4 million. From 1985 to 1996 he’d only made about $25 million total. So the cake that MJ deserved was only acquired from the two contracts in 1996-97 and 1997-98. That is unlike Kobe who has already made $279 million total – has been making $20+ million for 6 years now – over $25 million for the last three years – and $30 million this year.

        2. Obviously at the time MJ was A) healthy B) universally considered the best player in the game and C) widely regarded as the greatest player in history. Kobe does not check these boxes.

        3. Maybe even more significant than item #2 is that Jordan was negotiating this deal the summer after winning a record 72 games, winning MVP and Finals MVP, and winning a championship. What has Kobe been up to recently?

        4. The Bulls were coming off a championship so they didn’t have to worry about acquiring pieces to become contenders, as the Lakers do.

        5. MJ publicly volunteered to sign for 2-years, $36 million – but Chicago didn’t want to do a multi-year deal (long story, but the end was nigh).

        So when word of MJ’s $30 million contract reached ears in 1996 the reaction was completely different. It was more of, “he’s finally getting paid what he’s worth.” MJ being underpaid had always been a topic of conversation for years before that (kind of like LeBron today). Kobe has been making “Most Overpaid Players” lists for a few years now.

        So that’s why.

      • laownssf - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        MJ made that much with no salary cap which will make the owners even richer. If Kobe really wanted a ring he would signed for less.

    • wkl21 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Jordan was underpaid most of his career, Kobe’s been paid (in my opinion overpaid) for his career.

  6. rodge1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Thankfully Kobe signed for 2 more years. This will keep the Lakers in the bottom-half of the West and more importantly keeping their fans quiet, although they’ll continue to believe Kobe is helping. Win-win-win scenario… Thanks Kobe, please sign for another 10 years!

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 26, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      “Keep” the Lakers in the bottom half? The Lakers haven’t finished in the bottom half of the Western Conference since 2005, and even now they’re only 1 game out of 8th place.

      Hyperbole much?

      • jimsjam33 - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:06 AM

        Those were the ” good old days . “

  7. losanginsight - Nov 26, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    This was a no brainer for The Lakers. There is no guarantee that the Lakes will be able to sign another teams Super Star so Mitch thought ahead and signed LAs own. Kobe will come back and still be the top 5 player he is. Management understands that it will take a couple years to rebuild. Until then we will get to witness a legend doing work. LA fans are knowledgeable and understand that we can’t put up banners every year. LA will be back on top soon enough don’t worry.

  8. decimusprime - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    Somebody has to ask Kobe if seeing D. Rose go down again, did it make him push his timetable back?

  9. laownssf - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Kobe Bryant doesn’t give a care about winning another ring or he would be like Tim Duncan and sign for 10 -11 million. As a Laker fan since 1980 I can’t wait until he is gone as this will leave the Lakers high & dry basically starting over.

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