The Lakers announced in a stunning move Sunday that they've signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension. The deal comes as a surprise as it went unreported by any outlet prior to the official announcement.
Bryant, 35, continues his recovery from surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon suffered last spring, and had spoken of a resistance to take a paycut. The Buss family had made several public statements over the last few months that they intended to ensure Bryant retired as a Laker, and this extension obstensibly accomplishes that.
It's a pretty amazing leap of faith for the organization to extend a 35-year-old player who has yet to return to the court from one of the most devastating injuries in the sport without seeing him play a single game. But it does wonders for their goodwill with the fanbase and gives them security entering this summer's piovotal free agency period. They don't have to worry about convincing Bryant to return and add a star, now they can just pitch the top names while having Bryant inked on paper.
ESPN reports the deal is for nearly $50 million, with $23.5 in 2014-2015 and $25 million in 2015-2016.
Kobe's contract will be $23.5 million and $25 million, source tells ESPNLA.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) November 25, 2013
That's going to absorb a huge chunk of the Lakers' available cap space they need to sign a major free agent, and limit their abilty to successfully reload for another title run. But they apparently wanted to reward Bryant for his loyalty to the franchise, and they have. The next step is to see what he can give them coming back from injury, then try and figure out a way to squeeze in the requisite star power to make them a contender again.