This past weekend, defensive tackle junior Rasheem Green declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. He is the first draft-eligible defensive player on the USC Football team to do so during this off-season.Green’s departure leaves a major hole on the Trojans’ defense. Daily Trojan file photo.The 6-foot-4 Los Angeles native made his presence felt on the defensive line, with 117 tackles, 16.5 sacks, a pair of blocked field goals and even a touchdown via a fumble recovery. Green announced his NFL declaration through Twitter on Jan. 13. “After a lot of careful thought and discussions with my family, trusted friends, and the USC coaching staff, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility at USC and enter the 2018 NFL Draft,” Green wrote in his tweet. Green also thanked those who have supported him throughout his football career.“I wouldn’t be the player and person that I am without you guys,” Green said. “My three years at USC have been a blessing, and I am forever grateful for the people that I have encountered on this journey.”These last few weeks, the USC Football team has lost a few significant members, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, junior running back Ronald Jones II and junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Despite the chain reaction of declarations that occurred after Darnold announced his decision, a few players elected to spend another year sporting the USC colors, including junior inside linebacker Cameron Smith. On Jan. 12, Smith’s junior defensive-mate Iman Marshall announced that he would remain a Trojan for another season. “I came to USC three years ago with big expectations for myself and for this University,” Marshall said. “[I] want to help bring this University back to the top and feel we got a lot more left to accomplish, time to go and get it!”The 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback is known for his physical play-style that has resulted in 118 tackles, 17 deflections and six interceptions throughout his football career at USC. Without a doubt, the two returning veteran defenders, Smith and Marshall, will have to serve as leaders for a now offense-depleted Trojan Football team. Fellow defenders, redhsirt junior cornerback Ajene Harris and junior safety Marvell Tell III are also expected to return for their senior seasons.
Bryant posted a picture on his Twitter account that showed his signature on his new contract. Bryant then added the hashtag #Laker4Life. The Lakers also added on their Twitter account a photo of Bryant signing the deal alongside his agent, Rob Pelinka. Kupchak, Lakers executive Jim Buss and team lawyer Jim Perzik.It’s hardly surprising the Lakers and Bryant reached a deal. He guided the Lakers to five NBA championships and remains the franchise’s leading scorer. Bryant, who ranks fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 31,617 points, could surpass former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer (38,387). It is surprising, though, that the Lakers extended Bryant this quickly. The Lakers had the option to extend Bryant’s contract as early as last April. But Kupchak had suggested at his introductory season press conference in September that both sides remained interested in holding off negotiations until Bryant returned to the court. That way, Bryant could offer clarity on what degree he can mirror last season’s output, when he averaged 27.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting, six assists and 5.6 rebounds.“I think he wants to do the same thing,” Kupchak said of Bryant at the time. “I think it makes sense for him and for us to get him back on the court and get a feel and a gauge of how much longer he wants to play and at what level.” That sentiment changed, though.Kupchak began negotations with Pelinka for the past “few weeks,” according to a league source familiar with the discussions. The Lakers wanted Bryant to know they equated 17 years of built equity in enhancing the Lakers brand, ranging from championships, ticket sales, jersey sales and the organization’s deal with Time Warner Cable SportsNet and weren’t solely fixated on how he’d play following his Achilles injury. Meanwhile, Bryant still took a relative paycut from the $32.45 million he’s earning this season, a product of the NBA’s labor deal penalizing high-spending team forcing to tighten their budgets. “Jim and Jeannie Buss’ feeling on it is this is what their dad would have done,” said a league source familiar with Bryant’s extension with the Lakers. “If he were still alive, he would have wanted to take care of him (Bryant) the same way.”But Bryant’s signing opens several uncertain questions for the Lakers’ 2014 offseason. Bryant’s salary figure represents about 37 percent of the Lakers’ projected $62.9 million salary cap for next season, leaving the team with about $40 million to spend on the rest of their roster. That leaves the Lakers with enough purchasing power likely to attract one high-profile free agent instead of two. Potential candidates next season include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Chris Bosh and Rudy Gay. The 2015 free-agent class includes Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Rajon Rondo. The Lakers would also have to consider whether they’d wave Steve Nash’s $9.7 million contract via the so-called “stretch provision,” especially since he remains hobbled with nerve issues in his back. The amount of Bryant’s contract could also signal the end of Pau Gasol’s time with the Lakers, whose $19.1 million contract expires after this season. But a source familiar with the Lakers’ thought process said they haven’t considered that far ahead.San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, at age 36, signed a three-year extension worth about $10 million a year in 2012 to ensure the organization had enough to build a championship franchise around him. Did the Lakers’ re-signing Bryant at the amount reported compromise his team’s chance of winning his sixth NBA championship?That’s open for debate, of course. But the Lakers made clear they’ll put their trust in Bryant in leading the way. “Kobe’s not going to play to lure somebody to Los Angeles,” Kupchak said in his season-opening press conference. “He’s going to play to try to win games. If the way he plays helps lure players to Los Angeles, then so be it.”Later in the evening, Bryant added on his Instagram account: “The offer presented to me by the Lakers ensures the ability to bring in max talent.”More: Five things to take from the contract extention. With one stroke of a pen, the Lakers delivered the strongest message both on their admiration for Kobe Bryant’s extensive achievements and unyielding optimism about his uncertain future. The Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year extension worth $48 million, according to a league source familiar with the deal, though Bryant has yet to play in a game since tearing his left Achilles tendon seven months ago. The Lakers have already officially ruled Bryant out tonight when the Lakers (7-7) visit the Washington Wizards (5-8) at Verizon Center. Even if the Lakers remain unsure with Bryant’s pending return, they didn’t wait in securing the star who will play at least 20 seasons solely donning the purple and gold and remaining the NBA’s highest-paid player. This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error