It’s funny how something like this took the backseat to so many other subplot, Laker stories.

RealGM: Kobe Bryant’s contract extension negotiations were not a central issue at Lakers’ media day, even though Bryant declined to answer questions about it.

Informal negotiations have already begun, and the Lakers are secure in their belief that a new deal will be signed.

Bryant is under contract this season for $23 million and next season for $24.8 million. He can become a free agent by opting out next July, an unlikely possibility because of the expected success of the Lakers and the unpredictable NBA economic climate, where there might not be enough palatable offers for a player scheduled to earn as much as Bryant in the 2010-11 season.