On Friday night, Mark Cuban raised the question of whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers could benefit from releasing Kobe Bryant through the amnesty provision next season. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense. The Lakers are looking to sign Dwight Howard to a long-term extension and are about $30 million over the luxury tax. Kobe is set to earn $30.45 million next season, and he isn’t getting any younger. That being said, he’s Kobe Bryant.
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight (Howard) comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?” Cuban told Ben and Skin on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “You just don’t know, right? It’s the same reason I wouldn’t get rid of Dirk (Nowitzki). I’ll take a hit for a season rather than get rid of Dirk. That’s just it. I’ve made that commitment to him over the years, and he’s returned that commitment. Maybe that’s selfish, but that’s just the way it is.
“So 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 Knicks, the same thing. Boston, same thing.”
The conversation had to do with salary cap issues, so Cuban’s idea makes sense when thinking strictly in terms of dollars and cents. Despite that, the Lakers were not pleased with Cuban for making the comments.
“We’re aware of Mark Cuban’s comments and feel they are inappropriate,” Lakers spokesman John Black said in a statement, via ESPNDallas.com. “As to the issue itself, we will not comment publicly on the amnesty issue as it relates to any of our players.”
The Lakers said they will not file a formal complaint, but the league could still fine Cuban for violating its policy of talking about players in that way who are under contracts with other teams. Personally, I don’t see the big deal — especially since Cuban acknowledged he’s in a similar situation with Nowtizki but would never release him to save money against the salary cap.
“I said it hypothetically,” Cuban later added according to the Dallas Morning News. “I didn’t say they were going to. I just used it as a hypothetical.”
Releasing Kobe would be a PR nightmare. But if the team is as committed to Dwight Howard as they recently said they are, it would make sense on some level. Will it ever happen? Absolutely not. They’d be better off finding a trade partner.
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