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.
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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.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
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