As expected, Kobe won’t opt out; the official report is he hasn’t notified the Lakers that he will.

ponderingL.A. Times: Kobe Bryant must officially notify the Lakers via fax by the end of Tuesday should he decide to terminate his contract.

The Lakers declined to comment. Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return a phone call.

Detroit, Memphis and Oklahoma City are the only teams far enough under the salary cap to even contemplate signing Bryant to a five-year deal this summer, but they wouldn’t be close enough to match Bryant’s $23-million salary next season without shedding additional salaries.

  • xfellerx

    do it and take less.

  • LakerLoverCelticsHater

    I understand its a business decision but what would be a negative of opting out and backloading a deal? i.e take a 2-3 mill paycut years 1-3 and getting a 3-4 mill bump in years 4-5.

  • Dave

    ESPN just scooped the LA Times: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4298227

    Sources: Kobe returning to Lakers

    It wasn’t long ago that Kobe Bryant reportedly wanted out of Los Angeles. He’s not going anywhere now.

    Fresh off winning the championship, the Lakers guard decided not to exercise an early termination option in his contract and will return for the 2009-10 season, a league source told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.

    Bryant is scheduled to make $23 million next season by not opting out. He also has a player option to opt out of his contract in the 2010-11 season. The Lakers will work with Bryant over the summer and fall to hammer out a new, long-term extension, according to the source.

    After two straight first-round exits from the playoffs, Bryant requested a trade in the spring of 2007, saying that he didn’t like the direction the team’s rebuilding was going.

    The Lakers then went out and traded for big man Pau Gasol. Los Angeles increased its win total from 42 games to 57 and went to the NBA Finals, eventually losing to the Boston Celtics. The Lakers bounced back with a 65-win season in 2008-09, made it back to the Finals and beat the Orlando Magic for the title. Bryant distinguished himself by winning his first championship without Shaquille O’Neal. The duo won three from 2000 to 2002.

    Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.