Kobe Bryant signed a two-year extension to stay with the purple and gold on Nov. 25, and the deal was a reported $48.5 million.
Kobe had 48 million reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving. But I have to wonder what the Lakers were thinking.
Jim Buss reportedly gave him the offer and Kobe just accepted it. There was no negotiation whatsoever. I mean, Kobe is coming off a torn Achilles tendon — an injury that ruins careers. Buss and Lakers management should have presented him with a lower offer. Kobe could have said “no” and that’s when the negotiations would begin.
If Kobe was totally healthy, I could see the Lakers taking a chance signing him to that kind of money. I realize Kobe fills seats at Staples Center, but the Lakers they are banking on him returning to form and being the same old Kobe. But look at the end of the careers of Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, and Patrick Ewing. All three suffered the same Achilles tear, and none of them were the same when they came back.
Chauncey Billups was the most recent star to suffer an Achilles tear, and he hasn’t been the same. He was averaging 15 points and four assists when he got hurt in 2012. He averaged 8.4 points in 2013, and this year he’s averaging 5.3 in just seven games (knee injury).
The Lakers would be able to sign two maximum contracts if Kobe had taken a deal somewhere around $30-32 million. Tim Duncan accepted a three-year, $34 million deal before last season. I know Kobe feels like he is worth more than that, but the Lakers should have negotiated a deal in the $15-16 million range per season or let Kobe walk. Yes, I uttered that. Let him walk. The Lakers didn’t think Shaquille O’Neal was worth the money in 2004 and they traded him to Miami.
It doesn’t make sense in this day and age with the new CBA to overpay a player. Yes, Kobe brings in about $80-90 million a year in revenue to the team. But are the Lakers looking at spending his last couple years as a borderline seventh or eighth seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference? I am a huge Lakers fan. I bleed purple and gold, but this just stunned me. Unless something drastically changes in the West, the Lakers are not a serious threat to get Kobe ring No. 6.
Do I blame Kobe? No, not really. And I’m not a huge Kobe fan, to be honest. I preferred Shaq’s outgoing personality. He took what the Lakers and Dr. Jerry Buss offered. I don’t know many people who would turn down a boatload of cash. This has to be squarely on the Lakers. They just traded the next couple seasons to sell seats at Staples Center and ride the Kobe cash cow for all it’s worth.
They can’t honestly think they can piece bargain-basement players around Kobe and contend for a title.
If Kobe and whomever they bring in to complement him are true contenders, this will be Kobe’s greatest feat yet in a glorious two-decade career.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @djroxalot.