When the news of Kobe Bryant’s contract extension with the Lakers broke on Monday, many fans of the team were immediately annoyed by the dollars being committed to the face of the franchise over the next two seasons.
The problem isn’t that Bryant doesn’t deserve every penny. It’s that at this stage of his career, he may no longer be capable of being the best player on a championship-caliber team, and the money tied up in his salary will limit the options the franchise has in surrounding him with enough talent to once again contend for a title.
But money isn’t the only factor in free agency, especially for veteran players. Guys who have already made tens of millions may be looking for a place to play where winning a championship in a major market is possible, and Bryant’s health and on-court ability once he returns from his Achilles injury may be as much of a factor as anything in players deciding to join him in Los Angeles.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
But as [Carmelo Anthony] chatted briefly with USA TODAY Sports about Kobe Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million extension, he may as well have been speaking for the entire free agency class of 2014 when he made this not-so-surprising statement: Bryant’s health and performance, rather than the size of his deal, likely will determine whether anyone of equal stature joins him this summer. When asked if free agents like himself would see Bryant as a star who is still worthy of joining in order to contend for a title, Anthony said, “I mean you’ll have to see. It’s hard to gauge at this point, not until he comes back (from his April Achilles tendon tear) and figures some things out. So I don’t know. They might have some plans up their sleeve.”
Anthony is potentially one of the more high-profile free agents next summer, along with the Heat’s core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. But Anthony is more likely than the Miami trio to consider leaving his current situation, and he has a personal relationship with Bryant off the court that may make Los Angeles an appealing destination.
Superstars will want to get paid as close to the maximum that they’re allowed to earn under the collective bargaining agreement, but a winning situation in a favorable market may be worth giving up some of those dollars. In Los Angeles, Bryant’s health and whether or not he still has an ability to play at an all-world level — even in spurts — will go a long way in terms of influencing any relevant free agent decisions.
Of returning to the Raptors, Vince Carter said, “It’ll happen one day.” It sounds as if the Kings would buy him out if he wants.
Will he end the season with Toronto?
Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:
After speaking with a few team sources, I can confirm that they’ve had internal dialogue and debate about the idea of bringing Vince Carter back. It’s something that they wanted to do over the summer. That’s why they made him an offer, something that I’ve reported in the past. And it’s also something that they’d be open to in the future, perhaps next year in some capacity. But they’ve decided now is not the right time. And I think the consensus seems to be there’s so much going on right now, and they want this season to be about this team, their accomplishments and their playoff push and not the sideshow that I think would come with a Vince Carter return.
The Raptors (41-16) are on pace for their best record ever. They’re excelling offensively and defensively. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are spearheading a more dynamic offense that spurs hope for more playoff success.
Toronto is probably correct to save the Carter reunion for another year – though it depends who else is available. That 15th roster spot could be useful. If Carter is the best player who’d sign, the Raptors should sign him and deal with the hoopla.
But it’s not clear whom they could get or whether they could even get Carter. He hasn’t sounded like someone who’d forgo guaranteed salary to play for the minimum.
Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.
Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.
But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.
Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.
Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.
Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.
76ers guard J.J. Redick explained saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people – he was tongue-tied. But he didn’t actually apologize, and that bothered many.
Now, he’s getting that part right.
Maybe Redick really did just stumble over his words. Based on the inflection, it certainly sounds possible.
Maybe he thought he was being funny then got caught.
He’d respond now the same way now either way. Maybe it’s just unfortunate he’s caught up in this. Maybe he’s using plausible deniability to get away with something.
I don’t know, but it’s good he apologized. People can apologize for accidents, and it usually helps make everyone feel better and move on.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the point of the All-Star draft wasn’t to create a new TV event, but a better All-Star game. He even pointed out Stephen Curry favored not televising the draft this year.
But All-Star after All-Star – from captain LeBron James to last pick LaMarcus Aldridge – expressed a comfort with the selections being known. Good thing, because most of the draft order leaked, anyway.
So, will the draft be televised next year?
Silver, in an interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
I was misinterpreted the other day, because people thought I was diming Steph by saying he didn’t want to televise it. I have no idea whether he wanted to televise it. What he said after the decision came not to televise it, he said let’s give it a chance to see if it works, and then if it works, then we’ll televise it. So, I said I agree with him. But I don’t know whether he was for or against it.
By the way, I’ll take as much responsibility. When we sat with the union and we came up with this format, we all agreed, let’s not turn something that’s 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player. But then maybe we were overly conservative, because then we came out of there, and the players were, “We can take it. We’re All-Stars. Let’s have a draft.” So it sounds like we’re going to have a televised draft next year. But I’ve got to sit with LeBron and all the guys in the union and figure it out.
Overly cautious is right. This year was a missed opportunity. But the more important thing is getting next year right.
It sounds as if the NBA will.