By Steve Brooks: The Los Angeles Lakers took a big risk before the start of the 2014 season by giving the aging, injury-plagued guard Kobe Bryant a 2-year, $48.5 million contract extension that still has many NBA fans shaking their head and wondering what the Lakers where thinking in giving Bryant two more season in which he’s making top money normally reserved for players in their prime of their careers like Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant.
Bryant came into the season off a torn left Achilles that he suffered late last season against the Golden State Warriors. The injury was surgically repaired and Bryant went through 8 months of rehab. However, with an injury like that there are normally a ton of question marks about whether the player will be able to return to their previous form or not and play at a high level. This is why it just seemed like the Lakers owner was asking for trouble in giving Bryant tons of money without him having proved that he’ll be the same player he was before.
Former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson agreed with the Lakers decision to give Bryant a 2-year extension in his contract, but he thinks the Lakers shouldn’t have paid him so much money.
“Yeah, I would have,” Jackson said via Yahoo Sports. “They paid him more than I would have gone for.”
For a player who is about to turn 37, it’s a huge risk for the Lakers owner to give Bryant the kind of money that he got with the contract extension. It’s already biting the Lakers in the backside with Bryant playing poorly in the 6 games he played in returning from the Achilles injury before suffering a fracture of his left knee cap, which had nothing to do with his previous injury.
When Bryant does return to the Lakers lineup in a month or so, it’s unlikely that he’s going to be able to play at a high level this season. This means that Bryant will be getting $24 million in 2014 for play that you can categorize more as being mediocre.
Perhaps a big part for why the Lakers gave Bryant such a huge contract extension was because he continues to create a ton of interest in the team even with him injured or playing poorly. Fans will still want to come see him play, and they’ll support the Lakers through think and thin based on what Bryant has done in the past with him being part of 5 World Championship Lakers teams in the past.