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Why Kobe Bryant’s Contract Extension Is a Huge Win for the Lakers Organization

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers did right by Kobe Bryant when the organization gave him a two-year extension worth a reported $48.5 million.

The anticipated pay cut from his $30.45 million cap number in the 2013-14 season that took place wasn't Tim Duncan-esque, but it was a number that can make both sides walk away from the negotiating table feeling good. Bryant has since said he's ready to prove the Lakers right and make their leap of faith pay dividends after the team trusted he'll give it enough production following a devastating Achilles injury.

Meanwhile, the Lakers can walk away knowing they're winners for a variety of reasons.

Erase the stigma of the Dwightmare

The unmitigated disaster known as the 2012-13 season is a memory, though probably not distant enough. Everything from injuries, to an in-season coaching change to chemistry and personnel issues coupled with dissension went wrong. What's worse is that the Lakers had to abandon their plans to build around superstar big man Dwight Howard after he spurned them for the Houston Rockets during the offseason.

Since Howard won't be able to usher the franchise into the post-Kobe era, L.A. will have to settle for the Black Mamba himself carrying the torch into the next phase of Lakers glory. There's been plenty of speculation as to whether or not the Lakers can compete with Bryant eating up as much of the cap as he will over the next two seasons, but general manager Mitch Kupchak has proven himself to be a mastermind when it comes to building contenders no matter the constraints.

While there won't likely a superteam the likes of LeBron James' Miami Heat joining Bryant in Hollywood, there will be plenty of cap space for the Lakers to chase the best free agents available in 2014, which could include the likes of James and Carmelo Anthony.

For a variety of reasons, both of those scenarios are farfetched, but if the two big names don't give the Lakers a shot, then there will be a host of second-tier stars like Luol Deng, Gordon Hayward and Kyle Lowry among many others who would be honored to don the purple and gold.

By extending Kobe this early into the season, it will assist in helping everyone move on from the Howard debacle.

It's a good look

What would have happened if the Lakers let Kobe test the free-agent waters only to go through another agonizing question of whether or not a star player would consider leaving?

The team's brass was smart enough to know they didn't want to know the answer to that question, and they're going to be better for it.

The last thing L.A. needs after the Phil Jackson-Mike D'Antoni-Dwight Howard-injury-filled fiasco of 2012-13 is the nightmare of a scene the fan base of both the team and the league would create if they were to disrespect a player who's done so much for the game and franchise by having him go through the free-agent process at age 35.

From a business standpoint, Bryant is worth far more than what the Lakers can pay him. Now, he'll continue to sell tickets, attract casual fans and make history all in a Lakers uniform. They were right to not only take care of him, but to do it early in order to avoid making a scene of it.

This team doesn't need any more distractions after what they've been through.

The Lakers stay loyal, true

Loyalty is important when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers brand. The Buss family has operated with a sense of the all-important characteristic since Dr. Jerry Buss took the reins in 1979. Despite taking harsh criticism in the wake of the patriarch's passing in 2013, the latest move to retain Bryant shows effort on their part to maintain the most important relationship they have.

What's even more fascinating about what L.A. has done is that it didn't take a new, modern method to do right by its superstar -- it just sat down and took care of him.

Sometimes, the innovation that Buss showed during his life as the greatest owner in sports isn't necessary to make a big splash. The Lakers were able to make waves across the NBA by quietly signing their all-time greatest player to an extension that will ensure that he spends his NBA lifetime in one uniform.

It doesn't get more down to earth than that.

Catch up with Michael C. Jones on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.

Michael C. Jones is a Southern California-based journalist and was Yahoo's 2012 Contributor of the Year. He is the founding editor of Sports Out West and also contributes to SB Nation.


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