Back in November, before returning from the worst injury of his NBA career, Kobe Bryant signed a fully guaranteed two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers. The new deal will pay the veteran guard $48.5 million over the next two seasons and took many by surprise once it became official.
Bryant’s extension turned a lot of heads around the league for many different reasons. One, Bryant hadn’t returned from injury yet and many had no idea if he’d be able to bounce back from a torn Achilles. Two, the team purposely made it so that the majority of the contracts would come off the books this season in order to make run at big-name free agents in July.
As if Bryant’s new deal wasn’t highly questionable at the time of the signing, now the five-time NBA champion is on the shelf once again with a knee injury that’ll keep him sidelined until at least the end of January.
As a result of the injury, the future remains in limbo for Bryant and the Lakers, but former Laker head coach and current Miami Heat president, Pat Riley, doesn’t believe it was a bad move considering Bryant’s contribution via IndexUniverse.com:
What happened to Kobe was a freak injury. It does hurt the organization. But he also knows that the organization has his best interests … I mean he’s a week away from signing a $57 million contract that’s fully guaranteed, whether he’s playing or not. He has 18 years invested in the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is going to take care of him.
With all the revenue that Bryant brings in for the Lakers on and off the court, signing the veteran to a lucrative deal that will likely be the last of his career makes sense. Regardless of those who believe it was a mistake initially or even more so now that he’s injured again, Bryant is worth his weight in gold in terms of what he’s done and continues to do for the organization.
The same kind of treatment will be expected for other big-name players in the near future. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant are four names that come to mind as candidates to get the same treatment if they remain with their current teams.
Once it is all said and done for Bryant, it’ll be interesting to see how his final contract with the team is perceived in terms of if the Lakers got their money’s worth for their aging superstar.
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