The Los Angeles Lakers biggest concern going into this summer will be to re-sign Dwight Howard. However, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggests that the Lakers could let go of Kobe Bryant next season in order to reduce the imminent luxury tax penalties.
According to ESPN, Cuban made an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM “Ben and Skin Show” and said:
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwigh comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?”
“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.”
– Mark Cuban
Now Cuban does not say that he thinks cutting Bryant is the way to go for the Lakers, but he points out the harsh financial situation of the Lakers. Cuban himself made a similar decision, when he opted not to re-sign Tyson Chandler and other key players following the Mavericks’ 2011 championship run.
Bryant will be by far the highest-paid player next season, earning over $30 million on the year. If the team was to re-sign Dwight Howard, Lakers’ salaries would amount to somewhere around $100 million. With the new collective bargaining agreement in place, the team will face substantial luxury tax penalties, which could be considered too much even for the big market team.
Despite Kobe’s huge salary, it is almost impossible to see the team cutting ties with him. No one knows how many more years Kobe has in him, but the notion of him not retiring as a Laker is just far-fetched and flat out silly.