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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Kobe remains with Lakers



ESPN.com news services


LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers still have half of their superstar duo.


Kobe Bryant agreed to stay with the Lakers on Thursday, spurning an offer from the Clippers, a league source told ESPN.com's Marc Stein.


The decision came one day after the Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for three players and a draft pick.


On Wednesday, the Clippers, in an effort to clear out enough cap space to offer Bryant the maximum they are allowed (approximately $100 million over six years), agreed to trade center/forward Melvin Ely and guard Eddie House to the Charlotte Bobcats for second-round picks in 2005 and 2006.


Both L.A. franchises made their final presentations to Bryant on Monday night. Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed that general manager Mitch Kupchak and new coach Rudy Tomjanovich met with Bryant in suburban Newport Beach while Clippers spokesman Joe Safety confirmed that team officials met with Bryant, but wouldn't elaborate.


Bryant, who turns 26 next month, has played his first eight NBA seasons with the Lakers.


Both the Lakers and Clippers have said they're not concerned about Bryant's legal problems, expecting him to be acquitted.



Bryant has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with a Vail-area resort employee, now 20, in his hotel room in June 2003. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation. The trial begins Aug. 27.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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