Kobe Bryant has one more year at $30.5 million left on his contract with the… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
With the Lakers facing tremendous luxury taxes next season, could the team cut ties a year early with Kobe Bryant?
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggests that it's not necessarily a black-and-white issue.
"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.
The Lakers still have their one-time amnesty provision that would allow them to waive a single player. Though Bryant would still earn his entire salary, his contract would come off the books when computing the team's total payroll and luxury tax.
The Lakers who qualify for amnesty include Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake and Bryant.
According to the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement, tax rates climb exponentially next season. If the Lakers re-sign Dwight Howard at roughly $20 million a season, they could be paying in the neighborhood of $60 million to $90 million in taxes (depending on total payroll and thresholds set by the league in July).
"I'm just saying that hypothetically," Cuban said. "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."
Bryant is under contract for one more season at $30.5 million. Suffice it to say, the Lakers are very unlikely to use their amnesty provision on Bryant.
Even Cuban admits that he wouldn't do the same with Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.
"I've made that commitment to him over the years, and he's returned that commitment," Cuban said.
The Mavericks used their one-time amnesty on Brendan Haywood last summer.
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