Karl Malone/Gary PaytonKarl Malone and Gary Payton are now officially members of the Los Angeles Lakers, after signing contracts shortly after midnight Eastern time on Wednesday.

Malone signed a 2-year deal worth $3 million, while Payton also signed a multi-year contract, which will pay him $4.9 million this season.

Laker team spokesman John Black and general manager Mitch Kupchak had dinner at a West Los Angeles restaurant Tuesday night with Payton and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, and Malone’s agent, Dwight Manley. Lakers front office employees Ronnie Lester and Bill Bertka were also present. Malone faxed in his contract from Arkansas shortly after it was allowed to be signed.

The players will be formally introduced Thursday at Staples Center.

The addition of Malone and Payton to the already potent tandem of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, will give the Lakers one of the more feared starting lineups in NBA history.

News Link – ESPN – “Payton, Malone officially sign on dotted line”
News Link – Lakers.com – “Lakers Sign Free Agents Gary Payton and Karl Malone”