The Lakers have assured that Kobe Bryant will remain with the team for two more seasons. And sources tell ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that the extension, worth $48.5 million, will maintain Bryant's status as the NBA's highest-paid player. What remains to be seen is whether Bryant, who's expected to return soon from a torn Achilles tendon, will play at a high level. It also remains to be seen whether the terms of Kobe's deal will allow the Lakers enough financial flexibility to add impact free agents who could lift the team back into the league's elite.

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Kobe Bryant has returned to Lakers practices, but coach Mike D'Antoni says no date for his return has been set.

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How many more years does Kobe Bryant have left as an elite player?

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