Kobe Bryant is taking a $7 million pay cut next season.
Of course, he’s still going to make $23 million and be the highest paid player in the NBA, which left a lot of Lakers’ fans shaking their heads. They get the business reasons this is a good deal for the Lakers, but how does this really help their rebuilding effort again?
You can add Phil Jackson to the list of the confused.
“Yeah, I would have,” Jackson answered quickly, before briefly pausing and adding: “They paid him more than I would have gone for….
“But what he’s given to this organization, what he gives back — he brings a certain sense of, ‘We are going to win,'” Jackson said. “You’ve got to have a guy on the team that doesn’t settle for second. That’s one of the areas where the value of Kobe, even at this age, is terrific.”
This summer the Lakers have everyone but Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (who in theory could retire) and Robert Sacre coming off the books (there are options on Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly). The idea is they can go attack the free agent market, except with cap holds and the Kobe deal they can’t offer ‘Melo a full max deal. Not that they want him anyway. They’d love to talk to LeBron James but he is not likely leaving Miami. The focus is more on 2015 (when Nash is off the books for sure).
Really the next two seasons for the Lakers is going to be an extended Kobe farewell tour distraction while they try to figure out the long-term plan with the roster. With that in mind the Kobe contract isn’t really devastating.
But it did kill some flexibility for the Lakers.