Kobe Bryant is going to finish his career a Los Angeles Laker — 20 seasons with the same team. That would be the longest single-team tenure in NBA history.
Monday morning the Lakers announced that Bryant — who has yet to play this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon — has signed a two-year extension with the team.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a released statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”
This does not come cheaply. At all.
Kobe's contract will be $23.5 million and $25 million, source tells ESPNLA.
Understand Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett became free agents then took salary cuts into the $10 million range.
For the Lakers this is the smart business move — Kobe Bryant the player is what fills the seats and the luxury boxes, what gets sponsors on board, what drives the team’s financial engine. Even at $48.5 million for two seasons, he’s a bargain.
But that salary is going to cut pretty deeply into who the Lakers will be able to bring in and put around Kobe Bryant. With Bryant’s new salary plus the stuff on the books (Steve Nash, for one) they should have about $22 million, enough to bring in a max free agent (if they can attract one). It’s not simple. The need to deal with Pau Gasol and his contract this summer (he is a cap hold of $20 million until he signs with the Lakers or another team) and some of the other pieces to create that space. Unless they can bring Gasol back.
Whoever they bring in, for two more seasons in Los Angeles this is Kobe Bryant’s team.
Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season
A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:
Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.
The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.
Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.
Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade
“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”
But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
JR Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavs, a league source tells me. He is working with the team to trade him, and in the meantime will work out on his own
Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.
Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.
If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.
So, the stalemate continues.
If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.
Report: ‘At the direction of his attorney,’ 76ers G Markelle Fultz to stop playing and practicing, see specialist
The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.
David Aldridge of The Athletic:
At the direction of his attorney, Raymond Brothers, @MarkelleF is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist early next week. Per Brothers, Fultz will not participate in team practices or games until after the the specialist has had a chance to evaluate him.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it.
“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.
If that’s what the Cavaliers are doing, that’s smart. They need premier young talent, and a high draft pick is the best way to acquire it. Because they owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder, the Cavs need to tank hard rather taking half-measures.
But I also understand why Smith wants no part of it. He’s 33 years old, and he doesn’t have time to wait around for a rebuild. He wants to win now.
Smith should shame the Cavaliers for tanking. That should be a consequence of their plan, even if it’s the right one. He is a casualty of it. If he shames Cleveland into trading or buying him out, all the better.