The Lakers are set up perfectly to reload in the summer of 2014, but there’s one potentially awkward obstacle — Kobe Bryant’s salary.
Kobe’s contract is up after this season. If the Lakers want to re-sign him under a maximum contract, they’re going to have to pay him ~$32 million in 2014-15.
That’d be by far the biggest one-year salary for a player in NBA history. For comparison, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made ~$35 million combined this year.
It’d also cripple L.A.’s salary cap flexibility. Assuming the salary cap stays around $58.7 million, Kobe himself would take up more than half of his team’s available funds, and limit the Lakers’ chances of signing multiple top-line free agents.
It’s a pickle, but there’s one obvious way out of it — Kobe takes a pay cut.
If Kobe, who will be 36 years old going into 2014-15, agreed to a deal in the $15-20 million per year range, the Lakers would have a lot more wiggle room.
But he doesn’t want to do that. Yesterday Kobe told Serena Winters of Lakers Nation that he has no plans to take a pay cut. He even laughed out loud when she posed the question.
Reporter: “You are going to have to sign a new contract and if you do it’s likely that you might have to take a pretty big pay cut. Have you thought about that at all?”
Kobe: [laughs] “… Nah, I want to try to get as much as I possibly can.'”
Reporter: “So you might take a little bit, but not a huge one.”
Kobe: “I’m not taking any at all. That’s the negotiation that you have to have. You got to go in and start out and say, ‘No, no go.'”
This makes things awkward for the Lakers. Kobe is a legend, and you never want to kick a guy like him to the curb, especially when he’s still a great offensive player.
But on the other hand his contract severely limits the team’s ability to reload going forward.
Here’s the video of the exchange. Kobe’s LOL moment comes at right after the 2:36 mark:
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