Kobe Bryant took a pay cut in signing his latest two-year contract extension with the Lakers, but for many fans of the team, it simply wasn’t enough.
Bryant’s deal will pay him in the neighborhood of $48.5 million over the next two years, and there’s no question he’s worth all of it and then some to the Lakers franchise. But given the league’s stricter salary cap guidelines that teams are forced to adhere to in the latest iteration of the collective bargaining agreement, it leaves L.A. with limited options in terms of attracting free agents to build a contender in the immediate future.
That’s what Bryant has been hearing from Lakers fans via his social media channels since inking the deal, and he took to Twitter on Wednesday to defend his extension.
Kobe is right in that the Lakers obviously did their math, and extended him for an amount that would leave the team enough cap space to offer a max contract to someone next summer in free agency. And, it’s impossible to begrudge the franchise icon for getting paid for two more seasons at a level that may or may not be too much for a player in his stage of his career with his skill set that may not be what it once was following the torn Achilles injury.
The reality is that even if Bryant had decided to play for a dollar next season, there was no guarantee that any of the marquee free agents would choose to come and play for the Lakers. There is too much uncertainty there, but there’s a definite business decision that was made by locking Bryant up at this price — ticket sales and watchability will feed dollars into the franchise, and short of competing for a sixth title that Bryant clearly would like to have to round out his Hall of Fame career, that’s what this business of basketball is all about.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.
During the ProBasketballTalk podcast with Sixers coach Brett Brown, you could hear the frustration in his voice. He has all these talented young front line players — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor — but he can’t begin to figure out how they all fit together if he can’t get them on the court at the same time.
That problem just got worse.
The Sixers announced that Nerlens Noel will miss time following surgery to deal with soreness in his left knee. Here is the word from the press release itself:
During the normal course of evaluation and treatment for his left adductor strain, which was identified on October 6, Noel reported localized soreness in his left knee. After consulting with multiple specialists, the source of the soreness was identified as inflamed plica. Noel has elected to address the injury via a minor surgical procedure in the coming days.
The team gives no timeline for Noel’s return. Soreness from the plica — a band of tissue around the knee that is not important following birth — happens in some players and can be fixed by an arthroscopic surgery that removes the area being irritated. While the surgery is minor, it usually takes around six weeks to bounce back from this.
That likely means a little more run for Jahlil Okafor (just coming back from an injury of his own) and Richaun Holmes. But it’s just another injury setback for a Sixers team plagued by them.
The Sixers also announced that Jerryd Bayless will not have surgery on his wrist, but will remain out and be evaluated in two weeks.
This was flat out incredible.
After a back-and-forth, even series between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, it came down to the final seconds (although maybe it shouldn’t have, the WNBA admitted Friday the referees missed a call with 1:14 left, giving the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike a bucket on a shot after the shot clock expired).
The biggest stars took over at the end, as you can see in the video above: L.A.’s Candace Parker drives and scores with 19 seconds left putting the Sparks up 75-74; Minnesota responded with a Maya Moore jumper to take the lead back, then it came down to Ogwumike (the WNBA’s 2016 MVP) getting the ball after a block by Sylvia Fowles and following it up with a fadeaway bucket that gave Los Angeles the title.
Congrats to Candace Parker on the win, after how she’s been overlooked on the awards circuit in the WNBA this season, this is some sweet revenge.
Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday is away from the team as his wife, Lauren Holiday, battles a brain tumor.
First, Lauren gave birth to a healthy daughter.
Now, more good news.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune:
Hopefully, the Holidays continue to find good health.