What Does Kobe Bryant’s Extension Mean For The Lakers Future?

If you feel a wind blowing from the west to the east today, it could be the power of Los Angeles Lakers fans breathing one big collective sigh of relief.

As reported first by NBA.com , the Lakers and Bryant agree today on a three-year, maximum extension that Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting to be for approximately $90 million.

That means Bryant will remain a Laker until the end of the 2013-14 season—his 18th with the club that acquired him from the Charlotte Hornets back in 1996.

Bryant will turn 36 soon after the deal is set to expire. If all goes according to plan, then Bryant will have spent half of his life donning the purple and gold armor.

Bryant's extension comes on the heels of Pau Gasol signing a three-year, $60 million extension back in December that will keep him on the Lakers through the conclusion of the same season as Bryant's.

What this means is that the Lakers now have Bryant, Gasol, and Ron Artest locked up until 2014, while they hold team options on Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum for the 2012-13 season.

What's interesting about these signings is how they all conclude after the signing of the league's next collective bargaining agreement in 2011.

If the new agreement contains a hard cap and the league decides to do away with the mid-level exemption and luxury tax, the Lakers are all but guaranteed of having their core locked up and grandfathered into the new deal, regardless of what the new salary cap is.

In other words, what the Lakers have done was find a loophole in whatever the new CBA contains, continuing to give them a huge advantage over smaller market teams.

Compare the Lakers situation to that of the Knicks this summer. While the Lakers are all set for at least the next two years, the Knicks might not have a choice but to spend all of their cap space this summer. Of course, the Knicks want to spend it, but what if they can'...

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