As you've no doubt heard by now, the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant agreed to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension on Monday. Lakers executive vice-president of player personnel Jim Buss said that it was an easy decision, one motivated by loyalty and doing the "right thing" for their longtime franchise player, via ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne:
"This wasn't something I decided to do; this wasn't something [general manager] Mitch Kupchak decided to do. This was a Buss family decision," Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday night, after the team inked Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million extension.
"We made him the highest-paid player in the NBA because we felt like it was the right thing to do. This wasn't about what somebody else would pay him or outbidding anyone for him.
Bryant, 35, has been with the Lakers since his rookie season in 1996-1997. In sharing the news on Twitter, he said simply #Laker4Life:
While there are plenty of doubts as to whether Bryant's on-court performance will merit the almost-$50 million price tag after he returns from his Achilles injury, there's no disputing what he's meant to the Lakers franchise. It will be extraordinarily difficult to surround Bryant with the proper pieces to chase a championship as his career winds down, but at least Los Angeles will get to see him retire a Laker. Buss, via Shelburne, said the team isn't worried about Bryant showing he can still perform at a high level after the injury:
"He doesn't have to prove to us one thing," Buss said. "He's proven everything to us over the last 17 years. We've seen what he's done with broken fingers and torn ligaments. There's no stopping the guy. We have 100 percent faith in him."