The Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant have agreed to terms on a reported two year, $48 million dollar contract extension.
The contract extension establishes that Bryant will continue and finish his NBA career donning ‘purple and gold’, where the end of his two year extension marks the end of an incredible 20-year NBA career, all seasons with one team. The contract is a good one for both Bryant and the Lakers, but more so Bryant.
No one doubts the importance of Kobe to the Lakers organization and fan base. He has been, and will continue to be the greatest Laker for so many fans who didn’t get to experience “Showtime” with the likes of Magic, Kareem and Worthy. Kobe is comparable in both legacy and greatness with the greatest NBA competitors of all time, making him one of the few “any era” players, someone who could dominate the game, no matter what time period he played within. He has seven finals appearances in 17 seasons with the Lakers, has won five championships, one reg. season MVP, and two Finals MVP trophies.
With all that said, Kobe’s “pay-cut”, from $30 million to $24 million next year helps the Lakers cap space, but barely. ‘Cap Guru’s’ first predicted Kobe would take a pay cut, a significant one at that, but instead Kobe played the negotiation game, and the Lakers gave him the contract they believed he had earned. General Manager Mitch Kupchak said the goal was to make Kobe a “Laker for life, as well as the league’s highest paid player.” Mission accomplished.
The Lakers will already have plenty of cap space, with only Steve Nash, Nick Young, Robert Sacre, and Elias Harris on the books through the 2014-2015 season. The addition of Kobe’s extension still leaves room for a max contract free agent signing with the Lakers come July.
In retrospect, the Lakers and Kobe should have agreed on a two-year deal worth $24 million, half of his new deal, then the Lakers could have potentially signed two max free agents this offseason, with the addition of Kobe’s new 2-year deal.
If Kobe so desperately wants to tie MJ in championship titles, why not invest in your team more than yourself? By giving more cap space and playing at an elite level to end this season, Kobe could have set up a free agency extravaganza, with the Lakers luring over two top free agents, like Miami did just 4 years ago.
Now, with room for only one top free agent signing this offseason the Lakers need Bryant to return prepared, and show he deserves the $24.5 million a season. If Kobe can play with confidence and ease, attracting a max contract free agent wont be hard.
What will Kobe do with the remainder of the season to help show potential free agents his value? I expect Kobe to perform at a high level and stop any talk of being overpaid or unworthy. Kobe has earned his money in the past, and will earn it again in the future. ‘Super Teams’ are the new norm in the NBA, and Bryant knows he needs great teammates to win. The contract might hurt future cap space, but Lakers fans can trust both the organization and Bryant, the right moves are being made.
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