Of the Lakers signing G Kobe Bryant to a 2-year extension worth a reported $45.8 million — despite not having a played a minute of the current season — Los Angeles GM Mitch Kupchak said, “it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.” To which the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke notes, “he didn’t once mention a championship”. Careful not to describe the pact as, well, totally fucking insane, Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney submits, “it’s a bit curious that the Lakers would consent to such a deal.”
This is an incredible amount of money to commit to a 35-year-old star still recovering from a career-altering injury, not to mention a considerable investment for a team badly in need of an overhaul. Signing Bryant to this extension doesn’t preclude the Lakers from making use of their still ample cap space, though it’s a millstone at the center of a roster that should probably be going through a more deliberate rebuild.
In avoiding that, the Lakers have set themselves up for a two-year diversion of Bryant tributes and semi-competitive play. Their brand now has its caretaker, which is crucial for the Lakers to continue making the kind of financial return they’re accustomed to. Yet in basketball terms, it’s hard to spin how Bryant making so much money could possibly be helpful to L.A.’s efforts to construct a new title contender.