The Los Angeles Lakers’ decision to sign Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension on Monday was about more than just money. Many have wondered why the team would want a player who is 35 years old and returning from a major injury to be the highest-paid player in the NBA over the next two seasons. One of the reasons is that late Lakers owner Jerry Buss would have wanted to give Kobe the deal.
Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, Jerry’s son, spoke about loyalty on Monday when discussing Bryant’s new contract.
“Loyalty is one of the values our dad instilled in us,” he said, per ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s how he ran the Lakers and how we aspire to continue to run the Lakers.”
According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, a source close to Jim and his sister Jeanne Buss said their “feeling on it was this is what their dad would have done.”
Does that mean the decision may not be what’s best for the franchise in terms of championship potential? That’s certainly a possibility. The Lakers will still have room to go after free agents this summer, but Kobe will be occupying a very large chunk of their salary cap space. If he is the Kobe of old when he returns, it will be well worth it. If not, the Lakers may have handcuffed themselves until he retires.