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Lakers Finalize Deal With Bryant With Eye on 2014 Free Agents

Lou Cypher
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Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers finalized a two-year contract extension Monday that all but ensures Bryant will end his career with the team.

“We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement, “and this should ensure that that happens.”

Bryant will remain the league’s highest-paid player the next three seasons. His salary will be $23.5 million next season and $25 million during the 2015-16 season, according to multiple news reports.

Bryant and point guard Steve Nash are now the only Lakers signed to above-minimum contracts next season. The Lakers and Bryant always seemed intent on working out an extension, and his signing allows the organization to train its focus on the 2014 free-agent class, which could include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Writing Monday afternoon within the comments section of a photograph he posted to his Instagram account, Bryant rebutted doubts that the deal would constrict the Lakers and reiterated the team’s intentions for next summer: “The offer presented to me by the lakers ensures the ability to bring in max talent,” he wrote.

Bryant, 35, has not played a game since tearing his Achilles’ tendon last April, though he resumed practicing last week and is expected to make his season debut fairly soon.

Before the Knicks’ game Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers, Anthony praised the Bryant deal as good for both parties: “He’s been there his whole career; obviously he wants to bow out there, so I think they did him right,” he said.

SPURS 112, PELICANS 93 Manu Ginobili had 16 points to lead seven players in double figures and San Antonio (13-1) won at home for its 11th straight victory. (AP)

PACERS 98, TIMBERWOLVES 84 George Hill scored a season-high 26 points, and Paul George had 11 of his 26 points during a decisive run, leading host Indiana (13-1). (AP)

HEAT 107, SUNS 92 LeBron James scored 35 points while taking only 14 shots from the field and host Miami won its seventh straight. (AP)

ROCKETS 93, GRIZZLIES 86 Chandler Parsons scored 17 points and Houston, playing without James Harden, who missed his second straight game with a sore left foot, won in Memphis. (AP)CELTICS 96, BOBCATS 86 Jordan Crawford had 21 points, the reserve Gerald Wallace added a season-high 17 points and Boston won at Charlotte for its second straight victory. (AP)

PISTONS 113, BUCKS 94 Brandon Jennings made four consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter against his former team, and host Detroit overwhelmed Milwaukee with a dazzling first half. (AP)

NUGGETS 110, MAVERICKS 96 Ty Lawson had 19 points after a quiet start, Nate Robinson scored 11 straight for Denver in the fourth quarter and the visiting Nuggets posted their second win over the Mavericks in three days. (AP)


Gonna be weird when Kobe retires.