Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will be out six to nine months because of a torn left Achilles' tendon, according to doctors.
Of course, Bryant is 34 and has spent 17 years in the NBA. He may never be the same player again.
Which is why the idea of waiving Bryant under the NBA's one-time "amnesty" provision has been tossed around -- although not among anyone in the Lakers organization, General Manager Mitch Kupchak said.
Bryant is one of four players on the roster whom the Lakers would be allowed to cut without paying luxury taxes on his salary. If the Lakers waived Bryant, they would still have to pay his $30.5 salary for next season but would save up to $80 million in luxury taxes.
But they would not be allowed to try to re-sign him until after the 2014 season and would have lost their "Bird rights" (the ability to sign him for more than any other team) during the amnesty process.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will play Lakers GM and discuss whether they would make such a move involving a team legend. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
This is why $3-billion TV contracts are signed -- not only to make money but to insulate a team from when it must spend somewhat painfully.
The Lakers are unique. So is Kobe Bryant. This is why there is no way the Lakers should even consider using the amnesty clause on the future Hall of Famer, who will make $30 million next season whether his surgically repaired left Achilles is ready or not.
First of all, can anyone imagine the PR nightmare if the Lakers did this? Second of all, given the competitor Bryant is, don't bet against him returning for the start of next season. Lastly, if the Lakers did use the amnesty provision, they would eliminate all chances to re-sign the star, as much for the PR nightmare as the losing of his "Bird rights."
Like Larry Bird, Bryant should go out on his own terms. Expect that to be with the Lakers.
Shandel Richardson, South Florida Sun Sentinel
The thought of it sure sounds good.
If the Lakers decided to amnesty star guard Kobe Bryant, it would give the franchise the opportunity to start building around Dwight Howard and save loads of money. From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense.
But for once, I’d love to see an organization think loyalty instead of dollars and cents. Bryant is the face of the franchise. He’s helped it win five championships. He’s one of the greatest players in Lakers history, joining Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. The Lakers owe it to Bryant to allow him to rehab before making a decision as such.
He’s been with the team for 17 years when there were opportunities for him to leave. The organization should show similar loyalty by allowing him the chance to finish his career in the same uniform.
[Updated at 11:28 a.m., April 15:
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
Are you crazy?
If you want to give Kobe Bryant motivation to sign with the Clippers when he returns next season and average 48 minutes and 50 points against the Lakers, go ahead.
But let me count the ways that this is a bad idea.
First, there's the fact that Bryant could conceivably return as soon as the start of next season, though midseason seems more realistic. Do you really want to give up on perhaps the best player in franchise history after he hurt himself trying to carry a wobbly team into the playoffs?
Second, could you imagine the PR hit? Fans would march down the same Figueroa route used for Lakers title parades to riot against this madness.
Third, the Buss family has never been about pinching millions. This isn't the time to start.]
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