Whatever the Los Angeles Lakers’ future plans are, they included Kobe Bryant front and center.
The longtime Lakers’ star signed a two-year contract extension Monday, making sure the face of the franchise for most of the past two decades remains the same. The business became official earlier this morning in Los Angeles, when Bryant signed the extension, worth a reported $48 million (per ESPN’s Chris Broussard) at Lakers headquarters.
ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelbourne has more on Kobe’s new deal:
The Lakers did not announce financial terms, but a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that the deal is worth $48.5 million. Bryant will remain the NBA’s highest-paid player over the course of the extension, the source told Shelburne.
The former league MVP will receive $23.5 million in the first year and $25 million in the second year of the extension, according to the source.
Bryant, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, will make over $30.4 million this season, the final year of his current contract with the Lakers.
Bryant is back on the practice court, but the Lakers are still awaiting word on when he will be able to return to action. He missed the end of last season and the start of this one with a torn Achilles, plus the rehabilitation and recovery process needed after his April surgery to repair the Achilles.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement released by the team. “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 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.”
That ends any speculation about the Lakers’ offseason plans, now that Kobe is in the fold for at least two more seasons. With a robust crop of potential free agents expected to populate the market in the summer of 2014 (most notably New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony). With a healthy Kobe as their lead recruiter, the Lakers figure to be a major player in those sweepstakes.
-Alon Fishman(NBA Junior Correspondent)