Kobe Bryant isn’t going anywhere.
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight (Howard) comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?” Cuban said, according to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon.
Bryant is set to make $30.45 million next season, the final year of his contract. Next year’s luxury tax rules will bump the price teams must pay to $1.50 per dollar with escalators that kick in for every $5 million a team goes over the roughly $70 million luxury tax limit (h/t MacMahon).
The next, an alarming rumor, comes from ESPN Insider Chad Ford. When asked during a chat on ESPN.com about the future of Bryant and Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, Ford turned some heads with his take about the dynamic between Bryant and Howard and the future in L.A.:
I've heard rumblings that if Howard told Laker officials this summer that the only way he'd stay in LA is if Kobe leaves, the Lakers could end up choosing Howard over Kobe. It's an unlikely scenario, but one worth watching.
As Ford notes it is certainly an unlikely end result to Howard’s drama-filled stay in Los Angeles.
Both of these ideas, rumors or whatever you’d like to call them are borderline absurd even if Cuban and Ford acknowledged that upfront.
Bryant has helped the Lakers win five NBA championships during his long and accomplished career in Southern California. He’s also one of, if not the very best players of the post Michael Jordan era of NBA basketball.
You don’t trade, cut or do anything to jeopardize a player like that who has done so much for your franchise. Would the Chicago Bulls ever even have thought about amnestying Michael Jordan or pushing him out of town because a younger star didn’t connect with him or to save money?
The resounding thought in my head is absolutely not. You just don’t do that.
It isn’t like Bryant is on a decline, either. He’s still performing at a high level, scoring a fourth-best 26.6 points per game (through Feb. 22).
No, Howard will not edge Bryant out from his kingdom. To do so would be for him to become a villain in an already uncomfortable setting.
The much, much more likelier scenario is that, if anything, Howard opts to leave via free agency rather than staying put or pushing Los Angeles’ king from his throne.
Things could work out and Howard could end up signing long term with Los Angeles this summer. But he’ll have to do it while understanding Bryant is going to be a focal point of the franchise until he decides to step away.