Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers have agreed to a 2 year contract extension, according to the Lakers organization. General Manager Mitch Kupchak made the announcement Monday morning. The contract extension comes just days after Kobe returned to the practice floor for the Lakers. Details of the extension have not been released yet, as is team policy.
Kobe, 35, injured his achilles last season against the Golden State Warriors on April 12. He miraculously played the full game and scored 34 points, after apparently hurting the achilles in the third quarter (highlights). There has been much speculation in the off season about the injury to the 17 year year veteran. Many people thought the Black Mamba’s career was over. But for anyone that has followed Bryant’s career, they knew there was no chance he would go out like that.
Way ahead of schedule, and looking great, Kobe returned to the practice floor last week. There is even talk of him being back on the court for games before the new year. Bryant, who will make $30.5 million this season, was scheduled to become a free agent this summer if he did not come to terms with the Lakers. It is very likely that Bryant will take some sort of a pay cut so that the Lakers can rebuild with young talent and free agents in the deep group becoming available next year.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” said Kupchak. “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.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 25, 2013
There are still questions swirling about the Lakers and their future. Besides Bryant, the Lakers have two aged stars on the down slope of their career in Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. All the pieces around them are expendable at best. But with the history of the Lakers organization, it would be a bad idea to count them out for long. And with Kobe’s history, it would be a bad idea to write him off over these next two seasons.