BY: KYLE RAMOS
As you may have recently heard, the Los AngelesLakers and superstar guard Kobe Bryant recently agreed to a two-year contract extension worth probably more money than you or I will ever see in 10 lifetimes. Specifically, the Lakers signed Kobe to a deal for $48.5 million to be paid over what may be the last two years of his remarkable NBA career. For mostLakers fans or anyone who’s seen what Bryant can do with a basketball, it may be plausible to defend this move as the team wanted to securely lock in their franchise centerpiece. However, what is hard to defend is that Bryant is 37-years-old and also coming off of a major Achilles injury that has sidelined him mid-April of this year. Knowing Kobe’s relentless desire to win, this doesn’t seem like the type of move to put his team in that position.
By signing this extension, Los Angeles is tying up a lot of their funds that were supposed to be, at least in part, dedicated to attracting free agents over the course of this summer. Players likeLeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh may all very well be on the open market in just a few months and the Lakers were supposed to have been the top destination for at least one of them. However, given Bryant’s lucrative payday, the Lake show can realistically only afford to pay maybe one other max contract with the rest of the team consisting of some minimum salaries.
Bryant has essentially sucked his own team dry of cap flexibility, meaning that he may be stuck at his already impressive five championships. Though you could argue that a superstar ought to be paid for what he’s worth, there’s about zero chance Bryant would get anything remotely close to this kind of offer should he have been a free agent. You may also be thinking, “So what? If the team offered him the deal why wouldn’t he take it?” Perhaps that’s a reasonable thought, but there have been other superstars like Tim Duncan and even LeBron who have taken considerable pay cuts in their prime to maximize their team’s chances of surrounding them with high-quality talent.
Whether he’s willing to admit it or not, this was a rather selfish move by Kobe or maybe even just an awful move on the part of the Lakers’ front office. Whichever way the blame falls, the Lakers’threat to make one more championship run in the era of #24 has decreased pretty significantly in one fell swoop.