After signing Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension worth $48.5 million, the Los Angeles Lakers and GM Mitch Kupchak received some expected backlash for going all-in on a player that has yet to return from an Achilles injury.
With the Lakers paying Bryant $48.5 million over the next two years, Kupchak admits that it was a gamble for the organization via Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times:
Mitch says Lakers can judge Kobe contract extension in two years. “Maybe we got a deal. Maybe we didn’t.”
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 26, 2013
There’s no question the Lakers rolled the dice on Bryant with this new deal. Although everyone knew a contract extension was coming either during the season or next summer, no one anticipated the team locking him up before he was able to return to the starting lineup.
Investing over $24 million a season over the next two years in the 35-year-old has been highly criticized over the last 24 hours or so, but Kupchak and Jim Buss felt it was the right move.
Kupchak also went on to say that everyone is expecting a full recovery from Bryant via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
Kupchak said a key part of this is that “Everyone expects (Bryant) to be be fine … have a complete recovery.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 26, 2013
With Bryant’s history of battling through injuries and overcoming adversity, it comes as no surprise that the team is confident he’ll be back to form once able to return to the floor. Although Kupchak and company expect the five-time NBA champion to return to elite status, there’s no way of knowing if that is truly possible until he’s able to get a few games under his belt.
As of right now, the current extension for Bryant appears to be a bold and extremely risky move for the Lakers, but the team was willing to take the gamble. The move to sign Bryant this early may ultimately pay off if he’s able prove his doubters wrong once again before walking away from the game after the 2015-16 NBA season.
Kobe Bryant Signs 2-Year $48.5 Million Contract Extension Will Lakers