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NBA: Lakers, Kobe talking extension

December 19, 2009

Lakers forward Pau Gasol has agreed in principle to an extension that would keep him under contract through 2013-14, and Kobe Bryant has had ever-improving discussions on a contract extension that would keep him with the Lakers for the same period.

On Friday, Gasol smiled and said, “I haven’t signed anything yet,” but it was merely semantics, the stroke of a pen probably completing his extension within a few days after the Lakers’ trip ends Sunday in Detroit, according to sources close to the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly.

The Lakers have offered Bryant the most they can under salary-cap rules, but the sides are believed to be discussing smaller items such as whether the 11-time All-Star can get most of his annual salary at the start of each season, which has been the case throughout his current contract. Another sticking point possibly includes whether he can again have a no-trade clause, which came into play when he demanded a trade from the Lakers in May 2007.

Bryant has declined to talk about the status of his contract extension, saying most recently he wanted to “keep my business behind closed doors.”

The Lakers have been to the NBA Finals the last two seasons with Gasol and have not lost three consecutive games since acquiring him. His value was obvious earlier this season when the team went 8-3 while he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Since his return, the Lakers have won 12 of 13 games. “It’s crazy to think it, but he’s still underrated,” Bryant said. “He’s a great, great player.”

Los Angeles Times

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