Kobe Bryant Extension: Sometimes Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story

After Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Executive VP Jim Buss saw Kobe Bryant back on their El Segundo practice floor last week, the team today made sure they'll see a lot more of Mamba in their future by signing Bryant to a $48.5 million two-year contract extension.

Bryant—who is earning $30,453,000 this year during the final year of his contract—is slated to earn $23,500,000 next season and $25,000,000 the year after with his latest extension.

This represents something of a pay cut for Bryant, who just this summer held a firm stance to the contrary.

Pay cut, in this case, is a relative term as Bryant will still remain the highest-paid player in the league.

Whether Bryant deserves the money or whether the Lakers could afford to pay him given the lofty championship aspirations continually orbiting the franchise are two completely different questions.

Organizationally, it brings certainty to the brand.

Financially, the situation is murky.

But when we step away from the ESPN Trade Machine, put aside the analytics and the financial alchemy, and simply look at what Bryant means to the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles, it's fairly simple: the $48.5 million extension awarded to the Lakers' all-time leading scorer was the right thing to do.

So now that it's done, what's next?

Will Bryant be his old self coming back from an Achilles injury?

Will Mamba mesh in a Mike D'Antoni up-and-down offense?

Will the Lakers be doomed to NBA purgatory: good enough to make the playoffs for an early-round exit while not bad enough to position themselves for a strong lottery pick in the draft or free agency?

There are more than enough tea leaves to be read, not least of which is the fact that this extension came after Bryant returned to the practice floor and Lakers brass was confident he'll be able...

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