I’m pretty confident that Kobe Bryant has already cemented his place in National Basketball Association history regardless if he takes another shot or not. Nearing his return from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, Bryant will go down as one of the top five to seven players in league history.
Rankings such as these are always debatable but what is also up for debate is the new deal Bryant has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this week.
At the age of 35, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant agreed to a two-year $48.5 million extension on Monday night. This deal will make Bryant the highest-paid player in the NBA and keeps in the purple and gold for two more years.
While I respect and congratulate the Lakers and owner Jim Buss for the loyalty shown, I can’t help but believe that this is a very risky move for a franchise that is already in a bit of transition.
I should probably applaud the loyalty more than I am because it something so seldom seen in professional or even collegiate sports today. Unfortunately, I can’t stop fixating on the money involved in this deal.
Because the new deal takes up about a third of the Lakers’ salary cap, this will limit them in terms of being able to pursue top free agents although it appears they may be able to sock enough money away to go after at least one of the top free agents in 2014 or 2015.
That list by the way could include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. In 2015 Kevin Love will hit the free agent market and in ’16 Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look to be available.
We can’t forget that Lakers’ big man Pau Gasol is in the final year of his contract and reportedly has had no discussions with the team regarding his contract.
It’s no secret that Bryant would desperately love to get his 6th NBA Title tying Michael Jordan, but the cast around him is not going to help much. This signing was about loyalty and I get that and I like that, but I’m not sure it was the best thing for the Lakers in the long run.
Bulls Lose Rose Again
The other big story in the NBA of course is the loss of Derrick Rose to yet another knee injury. Rose underwent surgery on Monday where he had his medial meniscus repaired. The procedure was done by the same doctor who repaired his left knee in 2012.
For the Bulls’ it means yet another season without their top player. The team was valiant in playing without him last season but a year later it is doubtful they can repeat the same success. Their first game following the injury resulted in a 121-82 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.
For a team that was around .500 prior to Rose’s injury, I can’t help but think this could be just too much to overcome.
For Rose himself, the questions about his future have to be creeping in more than ever. If you recall he was medically cleared to return to action last season but did not. That led to questions about his confidence with the injury.
Those sentiments are likely to return in 2014 for which he is scheduled to be ready but can he return to the form that once made him the most valuable player in the NBA?
I certainly have my doubts and I’m guessing the Bulls do too.