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Kobe Passes on Chance to Become Free Agent

Posted: July 1, 2009, 5:54 PM ; Updated: July 1, 2009, 6:07 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant chose not to terminate the final two years of his contract and will remain with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Team spokesman John Black on Wednesday confirmed Bryant's decision. The MVP of the NBA finals had until Tuesday to become an unrestricted free agent.

Now the Lakers and Bryant's agent will negotiate a contract extension. If they somehow cannot agree, he would earn $23 million next season and could opt out next June.

However, Bryant has spent his entire 13-year career with the team, winning four NBA championships and on June 19 he said, "I'm not going anywhere. I know I ain't going nowhere, so it's just a waste of our breaths just talking about it."

Bryant has urged the Lakers to bring back unrestricted free agent forwards Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom, who played key roles in the team's recent run to its 15th NBA title.

Ariza made $3.1 million last season and his play in the finals against Orlando is expected to earn him a major pay raise. Odom made $14.1 million last season and is expected to have to take a substantial pay cut to stay.

Guard Shannon Brown is the Lakers' third unrestricted free agent. He made $796,000 last season after coming over with Adam Morrison in the February trade that sent Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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