It seemed that the Lakers had shelved contract extension talks with Kobe Bryant earlier this summer, but now they are trying to get a deal done before the end of the upcoming season.
So what kind of deal can we expect to see? A smart one.
Bryant has already come out and say that he doesn’t intend on taking a pay cut, but that is all smoke and mirrors. No player will ever come out and say they are willing to take one, because that only gives the team the advantage during negotiations. Bryant is a business man, so he is very smart when it comes to speaking about it. Kobe knows that his chances of tying Michael Jordan with 6 championships is reliant on getting another high quality player to join him out west. If he signs for a max deal, that will hurt their chances of signing good pieces severely.
Bryant is due to make 30 million dollars this season, and that leads all players in the NBA. He will be last player to ever make that amount, as the new CBA has prevented anyone from reaching that number again. Kobe shouldn’t worry about signing for big money anymore, so I don’t think that’ll be a priority. He knows that signing a max deal could lead to problems in the future, and he is all about winning.
Jim Buss saying that they are going to get it done is a smart move. It not only will help his image with the fans, but it shows potential free agents that they are committed to Kobe. The Lakers only have Steve Nash and Robert Sacre on the books next season (Nick Young has a player option, but he will opt out). That means they will have the most cap space in the league coming into next summer, and they have shown that they are all about the next few years.
Don’t expect the Lakers to make any noise next summer, though. All the young players that they were wanting have already re-signed with their teams (John Wall, Paul George, and soon Andrew Bogut). There is Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, but I wouldn’t put money on them donning the purple and gold. Kyrie Irving would be nice, but he is restricted, and I’m fairly certain that the Cavs will match any deal he gets. The Lakers should be patient, and try for Kevin Love in 2015.
Tim Duncan signed a 3 year deal worth 30 million dollars with the Spurs, and he may have set the price for aging stars. Kobe will come back strong from his injury–I have no doubt–but he will still take less money. Bryant signing before next year’s moratorium is lifted in July is smart, because the Lakers can head into the summer with a plan. He would have a cap hold of 30 million dollars, and they couldn’t spend that money until he agrees to an extension, or they renounce his rights. Expect Kobe to sign for about 3 years and 36 million dollars, and for him to ride off into the sunset.