The Los Angeles Lakers have started negotiations with Kobe Bryant's agent on a contract extension and fully plan to reach a new deal prior to the All-Star becoming a free agent next offseason
"I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent," Jim Buss said. "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.
"[Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak and [Bryant's agent] Rob Pelinka 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 has said he fully intends to retire with the Lakers and would be open to a deal before his free agency in July, 2014.
The Lakers currently have just three players (Steve Nash, Nick Young and Robert Sacre) under contract for next season.