Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak addressed assembled media members to discuss the 3-year extension afforded to Kobe Bryant earlier on Friday.
Here are some of Kupchak’s finer points:
- The 3-year extension comes on top of the final year of Bryant’s current deal, which concludes after next season. As such, Bryant is now signed through the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
- Kupchak said that he never seriously doubted that Kobe would remain in Los Angeles: “In my mind, I thought he’d always be a Laker.”
- The deal could have been done earlier in the season or even before the season began, but Kupchak explained that there was no real sense of urgency from either party, but rather confidence it would happen.
- Kupchak and Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, took a break from negotiations while Pau Gasol’s contract extension was being done back in December. Kupchak is certainly pleased to have both Gasol and Bryant (not to mention Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest) locked up for the next few seasons, but recognizes the pressure to win that comes alongside the talent.
- Neither the Lakers nor Bryant’s representatives wanted the negotiations to go into the playoffs, putting an impetus on getting the deal done. Kupchak explained that no team likes to negotiate during the playoffs, and that actual deadlines GM’s like to avoid start to come into play when the playoffs are completed.
- The status of Phil Jackson’s position as head coach “never came up” during Bryant’s negotiations, though Kupchak did acknowledge that he couldn’t imagine Bryant wouldn’t want Jackson to return.
- Kupchak said that Dr. Jerry Buss was “ecstatic” about getting the deal done, adding that there are few players in the world that “you’re excited about,” but that “Kobe is one of them.”
- While he is “very concerned” about how the Lakers are playing heading into the playoffs, Kupchak said the team “certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt until the playoffs are over.”