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Examining Kobe Bryant’s Contract Extension with Los Angeles Lakers

December 4th, 2013 at 9:55 PM
By Anousheh Emadi

Kobe Bryant's contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers solidifies himself a Laker for life.

'Kobe Bryant' photo (c) 2007, Keith Allison - license:

When breaking news occurred last week that Kobe reached a two-year $48.5 million contract extension with L.A., the basketball world ascertained that the Black Mamba would finish his illustrious career where it all started — in Los Angeles.

Although some question the franchise's move to extend Bryant's career in L.A. because of "overpaying" the 35-year-old, or perhaps eliminating the alternative of potentially signing two players to maximum contracts this summer, insuring Kobe's career in Los Angeles not only symbolizes loyalty to the franchise player, but also maintains allegiance with the fans. 

After witnessing their 320-game sellout streak end three weeks ago without the Hall of Famer, it is evident that the Lakers' organization is not ready for life after Kobe's retirement. Thus, both the Lakers and Bryant need one another.

What the Future Looks Like for Lakers

With Steve Nash's (and now Kobe's) contract being the only significant toll for the team next season, the Lakers have plenty of cap space to work with this summer.

After winning back-to-back titles in 09/10, L.A. is attempting to return to title contention. But with very little cap space in the past few years, it has been difficult to form a championship contending team (minus the Dwight Howard saga that failed miserably).

'Los Angeles Lakers' photo (c) 2009, Mike - license:

However, with ten different players on expiring contracts, the Lakers finally have the opportunity to sign big-time free agents in a stacked 2014 class. L.A. had the option of potentially signing two players to maximum contracts, but with Kobe's recent contract extension, they can only offer one player to the maximum deal.

Free Agent Options for Lakers

Carmelo Anthony is the only realistic superstar signing L.A. can make. Depending on if Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade opt out of their player options to peruse a longer deal, the Lakers can target them, but the chances of them coming to L.A. is very slim.

Wade will likely stay with Miami to end his career, and Lebron is attaining too much success with the Heat, but if he chooses to leave it will be to join forces with his beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. That leaves the Bosh— the only realistic member of the big three to come to L.A.

But does Los Angeles want to spend a max deal on Bosh? No. The big man can be a suitable third option that the Lakers can peruse on a cheaper deal, but Bosh will certainly seek a max contract.

Therefore, Anthony is the only superstar L.A. can realistically sign to a max contract this summer. With the current struggles that the New York Knicks are facing (an embarrassing 3-13 record), coming to Los Angeles is looking more and more appealing for versatile forward.

His friendship with Kobe, the Lakers' franchise, and L.A.'s open cap space to build a championship contender through free agency are all contributing factors that Los Angeles can use to lure Anthony to L.A.

If they can sign Anthony, L.A. will build a dynamic duo with Bryant and Carmelo, and also have the opportunity to sign many other above average role players.

Furthermore, the option of re-signing two-time champion Pau Gasol this offseason is another tough and intriguing decision the Lakers will need to make. Gasol will certainly be a very solid third or fourth offensive option for the squad, and fans would love to see the Spaniard to return to L.A.

'Paul Gasol' photo (c) 2008, WDPG share - license:

However, the Lakers would ideally like Gasol to take a pay cut in order to provide the team with more flexibility in perusing other free agent alternatives.

Veteran forwards such as Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph and Paul Pierce can all hit free agency this summer, and the Lakers may be a potential landing spot.

Although Nowtizki will likely finish his career in Dallas, you can't say the same for Randolph and Pierce. The Memphis Grizzlies, a small market team, wouldn't necessarily be eager to re-sign an aging Z-Bo, as they already have younger big men in Marc Gasol, Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos.

Thus, if the Lakers can lure Randolph to L.A. on a suitable contract, they shouldn't hesitate to do so. But what if the Lakers want build a younger squad around Kobe?

There are several restricted free agents this offseason, but most of them will be retained by their current teams. However, big man Greg Monroe is surely an attractive possibility for the Lakers.

Though he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Detroit Pistons can match any offer, Motor city have no need for Monroe because they already have a logjam at front court with center Andre Drummond and forward Josh Smith.

Whether the Lakers lure Anthony to L.A with a maximum deal, and either re-sign Gasol, or sign a veteran like Randolph or perhaps a youngster such as Monroe, it is evident that the storied franchise have plenty of options through free agency and one important goal— build a championship squad to get Kobe that sixth ring.

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Tags: Basketball, Carmelo Anthony, Center, contract, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Forward, free agent, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Pau Gasol, season, Steve Nash

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