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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court during the game against the Chicago Bulls on November 19, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Lakers ownership knows what wins games — and sells out Staples Center and its expensive seats — and they want to keep the good times rolling until at least 2014.
The Lakers are on the verge of extending Pau Gasol’s deal for three seasons, keeping him a Laker until at least the summer of 2014. The parties have agreed to the deal in principle. In an odd twist brought to you by union negotiations and lawyers, the exact terms of the deal will not be known for a couple years. In 2011 the NBA will get a new deal with the players union that will define maximum raises, an that will determine what Gasol will make. However, it likely will be about $64 million for the three years.
That’s a lot of money, but money well spent. Gasol doesn’t draw fans or sell jerseys the way Kobe does (expect in Europe, where Gasol is ninth in the NBA is apparel sales). What he does is make the Lakers win. Since he came to the Lakers the team has been to two straight NBA Finals, winning one. This season, since Gasol returned from a hamstring injury, the Lakers are 14-1 and he is scoring 17.4 points on 56% shooting while pulling down 12.8. rebounds per game. You can add 4.1 assists and 1.4 blocks to that as well. What’s more, the Lakers offense and passing have just looked better.
The Lakers also are continuing negotiations with Kobe Bryant to extend his current contract several years. It may be in Kobe’s interest to opt out this summer then sign a new maximum contract deal with the Lakers (his current contract is already a max deal, what did you expect Kobe to have).
Either way, Kobe has said he is not leaving the team. And why would he?
In addition to those two, Andrew Bynum was recently locked into a longer term deal. Larmar Odom got his contract extended this summer. Ron Artest just cam on board with a five year deal. The core of the team is set for a few years, keeping the championship window open.
The only member of the Lakers core not locked up is Phil Jackson, he is year-to-year right now. Which means a couple times a year a reporter will ask him about it and in classic Jackson fashion he’ll leave some doors open or just tease them. He did it in New Jersey Saturday saying he wasn’t sure if owner Jerry Buss wanted to pay him another year.
You don’t think Buss is going to let Jackson get away do you? If Jackson is healthy enough to come back —and this year he seems energized so far — he can come back and almost set his price. Buss will pay it happily.
Besides, Jackson is part of winning championships — and putting butts in seats — and the Lakers don’t let those guys get away.