Kobe Bryant Is Leaving $US19 Million On The Table To Finish His Career With The Lakers

Kobe Bryant signed a two-year, $US48.5 million extension that will keep him with the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2015-16 season, the team announced today.

Because of the brevity of the contract, Kobe’s relatively advanced age, and his “#Laker4Life” tweet after signing the deal, it appears that he will retire when this deal is over in 2016.

The contract will make him the only player in NBA history to play 20 seasons with one team.

But he’s taking a pay cut to do so.

Kobe will make $23.5 million in 2014-15 and $US25 million in 2015-16, according to widespread reports.

That’s a ~$7 million pay cut from his 2013-14 salary of $30.5 million.

Under NBA contract rules, the maximum value of a potential two-year Lakers contract for Kobe was ~$67.9 million ($32.8 million in 2014-15 and $US35.1 million in 2015-16).

He ended up leaving ~$19.4 million on the table in order to stay a Laker.

Kobe’s contract is totally unique in the NBA. He was drafted 1996 — an era when rookies got paid more money up front and started getting max contracts after only a couple of years in the league. Since Kobe is maniacally competitive and hard working, he has been signing max deals for over a decade. His permitted maximum salary is a relic from the old CBA, and is completely out of whack with what other elite players make.

The second-highest paid player in the league, Dirk Nowitzki, makes $US22.7 million. LeBron makes $US19 million.

If Kobe asked for a max deal, he would have occupied more than half of the team’s total salary cap room, crippling the team’s ability to sign other top players.

Even though he’s taking a $US7 million annual pay cut and leaving $US19 million on the table over two years, he’s still going to be the highest-paid player in the league. That gives you an idea of just how outrageous his old contract was.

And even though the Lakers got a discount on Kobe, they’re still committing a huge chunk of their salary cap to a 37-year-old coming off a torn Achilles. Despite the pay cut, it’s an incredibly costly move for L.A.

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