Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, a deal that likely means the 35-year-old guard will complete his career as a Laker, the club announced on Monday.
No terms were revealed, but ESPN reported the deal was worth $48.5 million (Dh178 million) and will keep Bryant as the NBA’s highest-paid player. Bryant will make $30.4 million this season under his prior contract.
Bryant, who is recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, has returned to practice with the Lakers but is not yet ready to play. The team has not offered a timetable on when he might be back in games.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has said Bryant will return whenever he says he is ready. During his recovery, Bryant has spent plenty of time with Steve Nash, the 39-year-old point guard currently sidelined with the latest in a series of injuries. Nash has been out with nerve root irritation, a back problem stemming from a broken leg last season.
Bryant and Nash intend to be back in the Lakers’ lineup together soon.
Bryant tweeted a photo of his signature on a contract line with the hashtag Laker4Life, and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he expects the deal, which would give Bryant two decades in the NBA, will enable the star guard to finish his career in purple and gold.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Kupchak said in a 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 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.”
The Lakers have won five NBA titles since Bryant joined the team after being taken 13th overall by Charlotte in the 1996 NBA Draft and traded to Los Angeles. He helped the Lakers to titles in 2000-2002, 2009 and 2010.
Bryant is the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer and ranks fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list. He was named the NBA’s regular season in 2008 and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2009 and 2010.
The 15-time NBA All-Star also helped the United States team capture Olympic gold medals at Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.