Kobe Bryant Signs 3-Year Extension With Lakers
The lack of an extension since July spurred rumors Kobe could be seeking to keep his options open in case the Lakers didn't advance to the Finals this spring. If he had become a free agent, Kobe would have joined the most talented class in ages, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others on track to be on the market come July 1.
The extension will run through the 2013-14 season. The league's current collective bargaining agreement with players expires in July 2011, and it's expected salaries will decrease under a new CBA, so this extension ensures Kobe will remain well-paid into the next labor agreement.
There are no details on the size of the extension -- Kobe is eligible for a salary of $26 million in 2011-12, $28.7 million in 2012-13 and $31.5 million in 2013-14, which would set the value of the extension at $86 million, or an average of $28.7 million per year. The highest paid player this season, Tracy McGrady, made $23.2 million. Assuming he signed a maximum value extension, Bryant will almost assuredly be the highest paid player in the league in each of the next four seasons.
Interestingly enough, Kobe was eligible for a five-year extension. This may have been what the Lakers and Bryant have been negotiating.
A previous version of this post had slightly different salary figures.