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Kobe signs on for three more years with Lakers

By Bryan Chu, for NBA.com
Posted Apr 2 2010 11:44PM

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant may have just inked his way to being a Laker for life.

On Friday, the 31-year-old guard signed a three-year extension that will put him in a Lakers uniform through the 2013-14 season.

"My position all along -- and I've mentioned many times -- is that Kobe started as a Laker and he should end his career as a Laker," said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak before Friday's game against the Jazz.

"We're fairly assured now that he will end his career as a Laker. Now of course in four years he will be 35 years old. Maybe we'll go through this again... but I think at that point in time after all those years if he did choose to play some more it would be here in Los Angeles."

As for the contract, which is reportedly worth $90 million, there were no qualms of shelving out the cash.

"There are very few players you are really excited about when you sign them to long-term contracts and Kobe is one of those players," Kupchak said. "Although you're making a huge commitment, I think it's something you have to do and you're happy to do it and you're glad when it's done. I would say that's how [Lakers owner Jerry Buss] stands today."

With one year left on his current contract, the four-time NBA champion and 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player now joins a core group of Lakers who are now signed through at least the next three seasons.

Pau Gasol, who inked a three-year extension worth up to $64.7 million in December, and Ron Artest are under contract through the 2014 season.

Lamar Odom, who in the offseason signed a four-year deal worth up to $33 million, and Andrew Bynum are locked in through 2013.

During discussions, Kupchak said Lakers coach Phil Jackson's future was "never a factor in the negotiations" in Bryant's extension.

When asked whether he would stay for the duration of the core groups under contract, Jackson laughed and quickly dismissed the idea.

"I'm not going to buy into anything in the three to four years kind of situation," Jackson said. "I just don't think that's in the cards at all. I can look into the season one year at a time right now and feel comfortable with the commitment that I can generate maybe enough energy to get through another year or push the team hard enough as a coach to get done through a year.

"But when you talk about those long-term things there's got to be a change here in the near future."

Bryant is averaging 27.2 points per game (fourth best in the league), 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists in his 14th season. With that kind of mileage, Jackson has continued to be impressed by his play, but does have some advice.

"He needs to actually take a summer off and really respond to the recuperative powers and regenerate that energy again in August next year... he needs a real break," Jackson said. "He is by far one of the hardest working athletes I've been close to and he's done a terrific job to sustain this over the years."

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