Jim Buss: 'Kobe Bryant will be offered new contract'

Buss: 'Lakers preparing Bryant deal'
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Jim Buss reveals that the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing to offer Kobe Bryant a new contract.

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss has insisted that Kobe Bryant will not be allowed to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Recent reports had suggested that Bryant might be allowed to leave the franchise but Buss has revealed that the Lakers have already started discussions about a new deal for the 35-year-old.

"I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent," Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "That's not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He's a Laker legend and always will be. I don't think we're done winning championships with him yet.

"Mitch Kupchak and Rob Pelinka [Bryant's agent] have been talking, but with him being hurt, it has slowed the process some. I don't know when it'll get done, but I have faith in Rob and Mitch to work things out."

Bryant is currently recovering from surgery on an injured Achilles.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant rises high to dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 22, 2011
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