The Lakers have issues beyond whether they’re going to somehow squeak into playoff contention.
However that plays out, the Lakers will enter this offseason having to weight how to trim their $100 million to avoid harsher luxury tax implications. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban argued the solution should involve using the amnesty provision on Kobe Bryant.
“If you look at their payroll … you’ve got to ask that question, ‘Should they amnesty Kobe?’” Cuban said on ESPN’s “Ben and Skin Show” in Dallas. “I’m just saying that hypothetically. When I say amnesty Kobe, I don’t think they’d do it, but they’ve got some choices to make. Now, they’re in a big market, but they’re still limited.”
The Lakers absolutely won’t do that for various reasons. First, there’s the immediate public relations nightmare over parting ways with Bryant after winning five NBA championships and climbing up to fifth place in the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Secondly, it could send a horrible message about the Lakers’ front office intentions on having the willingness to spend to win titles and when they hope to attract future stars. Third, Bryant’s still an incredible player and has hinted that he’ll retire once his contract expires in the 2013-14 season.
Of course, Cuban would love for that to happen. He publicly conceded this season he hopes the Lakers’ star-studded roster “will suck.” But Cuban’s issues raises an interesting discussion.
According to the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement, tax rates climb exponentially next season. Bryant’s $30.5 million deal for one more season could severely hamper the team’s long-term financial flexibility. The Lakers’ other amnesty candidates in Pau Gasol ($19 million), Metta World Peace ($7 million) and Steve Blake ($4 million) earn significantly less.
Nonetheless, the Lakers have rightfully indicated they would never go down the path Cuban outlined. After all, he even admitted he’d never do that to aging star Dirk Nowitzki. Instead, Cuban used that one-time provision on Brendan Haywood.
Bryant joked before the trade deadline that he’s “trembling” on the thought the Lakers might deal him. Safe to say he can make the same joke about the amnesty provision.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org