Blog Entry

No Kobe in 2010

Posted on: April 2, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2010 5:53 pm
Forget about Kobe Bryant joining the 2010 free-agent frenzy. The three-year, maximum extension he finally agreed to Friday with the Lakers put an end to that.

Instead of exercising his early termination option after the season, Bryant is signing up to finish his career in a Lakers uniform. With a $24.8 million salary next year, Bryant is eligible to make $27.4 million in 2011-12, $30 million in '12-'13 and $32.6 million in the final year of the extension.

This is splendid news -- and not only for Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka, who will get a nice chunk of that $90 million as a commission. It's splendid because it promises four more years of Lakers drama -- the annual questions about whether Phil Jackson will be back to win one more title, and what Kobe will do/think/say if Phil ever does decide to ride off into the sunset with Jeanie Buss and never look back.

It's also splendid because it may offer a glimpse into the decision LeBron James will have before him three months from now. Granted, they are at very different stages of their careers. But if Bryant just laid down the blueprint for LeBron -- hey, if they've given you everything you want, you might as well stay -- then there will be a handful of extremely disappointed general managers standing around with cap space and nothing to spend it on come July 1.

Bryant's extension offer has been on the table since July, when he decided not to exercise the first of two straight termination clauses. It was widely believed that he would follow that good-will gesture by quickly signing an extension, but it took months to finalize.

In addition to eliminating Bryant from a free-agent class that is expected to include James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others, his decision to commit to three more years with the Lakers suggests that Bryant believes Jackson will be back for at least one more year as coach. Jackson, 64, told last week that he expects to be back, barring any surprises in his annual post-season physical. Jackson later backtracked, saying he wasn't leaning one way or the other. Bryant, it would appear, believes otherwise. 

Bryant's decision will come as a surprise to several GMs I've spoken with recently who are in the planning stages for this summer's free-agent signing period. They had begun to expect Bryant to make himself available to the highest bidder -- that Bryant was the free agent everyone kept forgetting about. It was never assumed that Bryant wanted to leave L.A., but rather that uncertainty over Jackson's future might compel him to keep his options open.

With four titles and another one possible this June, what better options could there have been? Apparently, according to Kobe, none.

The last time I saw Bryant, he was walking toward the loading dock at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, sunglasses on and head hanging after a particularly humiliating loss to the Thunder. Minutes earlier, Bryant had gotten more of the rubbish he gets in every NBA city -- more of these comparisons to players who haven't won anything yet. It would stand to reason that Bryant put the LeBron comparisons to rest last June, when he hoisted his fourth championship trophy, and first without Shaq. James hasn't won any yet, and Bryant is within two of tying Michael Jordan, and yet all anyone can talk about is LeBron, LeBron, LeBron.

Bryant can take that; there is no denying James' talent and no telling how many titles he'll ultimately win if he puts himself in the right situation, starting this summer. But now Bryant supposedly has been passed in the NBA hierarchy by Kevin Durant, according to the great basketball publication Rolling Stone

"Whoever said that is a little bit over their head with that one," Jackson said.

Asked that night in Oklahoma City if he "got caught up" in the head-to-head matchup with Durant, Bryant smiled and said, "That's a silly question." With nine turnovers in the loss, Bryant also was asked if the player defending him -- Thabo Sefolosha -- had become one of the better defenders in the league.

"Sure," Bryant said, with about $90 million worth of sarcasm.

Bryant could have joined the new generation chasing him in the chase for dollars this summer. On Friday, the best player of his generation decided to sit that one out. Let's compare the resumes in four years and see if he was right.

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: April 3, 2010 8:13 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: April 3, 2010 12:37 pm

No Kobe in 2010

I also think the Lebron and Wade will stay put, but it really makes me think why they wouldnt already have the deal done. I mean its not like these two dont know what their going to get from their teams. They should no by now. Just makes me wonder.

Since: Oct 23, 2009
Posted on: April 2, 2010 5:52 pm

No Kobe in 2010

I completely agree.  I believe Lebron james and Dwyane Wade stay put.  Chris Bosh is the only person I can see making a move and possibly joining Cleveland or Miami.  The bright side for the New York Knicks is they will have a ton a cash to throw at many good players which can often times lead to great teams (example being the Detriot Pistons a few years back).  If the Knicks were smart they would retract the comment about not resigning David Lee and throw some money his way.  Lee is way too good of player to let walk because the Knicks think every free agent is standing in line to play for them.  Even with all that available cash there is still a salary cap in place and players resigning with their respective teams (like James and Bosh) are alloted $5m more than any other team (like the Knicks) can offer. 

As much as I don't like Kobe, I give the guy kudos for not playing media games and unnecessarily making everyone wait other than the reason of " because I can". This also will allow him to concentrate on basketball going into the playoffs rather than being swarmed by media questioning him on his intentions.  It might not be a bad idea for Lebron James to do the same thing.  He is playing a championship calibur team and has a good shot at winning it all this year. It will be unforunate if the Cavs championship run is tarnished and spoiled by the media just focusing on Lebron's future.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2010 5:27 pm

No Kobe in 2010

Great to see Kobe will spend his entire career as a Laker.  It would not have been right seeing him anywhere else.

I think people are going to be a bit surprised at this upcoming free agent class and that a lot of the "big names" like LeBron won't be changing teams.  Only delusional Knicks fans think LeBron is going to NYC.

Congrats to the Lakers & Kobe for finalizing this deal.

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