Lakers sign Kobe Bryant to a three-year extension
“We are extremely pleased that we were able to reach an agreement and come to terms on the extension at this time,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “Kobe has been a cornerstone of the Lakers for well over a decade, helping to lead us to four NBA championships and in the process developing into one of the greatest players in basketball history.”
“Two of our main goals heading into this season were to sign Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to contract extensions,” Kupchak said. “With the signing of Pau earlier this season and the signing of Kobe today, we were able to accomplish those goals, helping to keep the core of this team intact for the foreseeable future and in turn help to ensure the franchise’s continued success over the years to come.”
Bryant, who has played solely with the Lakers during his 13-year career, has won four championships with the Lakers, one MVP and was named NBA Finals MVP. In June, shortly after the Lakers won their most recent NBA title, Bryant elected not to opt out of the final two years of his contract and instead planned to negotiate an extension. He told reporters in July during his summer camp at Loyola Marymount University that he wasn't worried about immediately reaching a deal, cognizant that Kupchak was then negotiating contracts with free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom.
Ariza, unhappy with the Lakers' offer, agreed to a five-year deal worth $33 million with the Houston Rockets, while the Lakers picked up Ron Artest from Houston with a three-year offer worth $18 million. Then in August, Odom signed a four-year deal with the Lakers worth about $33 million, with a team option for the final year. And last December, Gasol signed a $57-million extension that kept him with the team through 2013-14.
"Mitch has a lot on his plate," Bryant said at the time. "I'd rather him take care of those pieces first. He'll get around to me."
---The Times' Mike Bresnahan has additional details regarding Bryant's extension on the Times' Fabulous Forum blog.
-- Mark Medina
Photo: Kobe Bryant holds up the Larry O'Brien Trophy and the Bill Russell MVP trophy after the Lakers beat Orlando 99-86 to win the NBA Championship in game five of the NBA Finals at Amway Arena last June.Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times