He's said that it's not an option.
As the Lakers look in four directions at once, still trying to make their way into the playoffs while simultaneously addressing a very serious situation for their franchise, Kupchak and the Lakers haven't even talked about the thought that amnestying Kobe would be an option.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: Using the amnesty provision to waive Kobe Bryant in July was not even something being discussed.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) April 13, 2013
This is obviously something that would have to be addressed sooner or later, especially given the massive contract that the Lakers have to pay Kobe over the course of next season.
Grantland's Bill Simmons brought it up while pointing out that it would save the Lakers a ton of money after taking their luxury tax into account, and the idea has just kind of run off the tracks from there.
1. Waited until AM for this tweet out of respect - but a Kobe amnesty is a real possibility. Would save LA about 80m in lux tax fees.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 13, 2013
One thought then back to hockey, if you think the Lakers would never amnesty Kobe? These are the Jim Buss Lakers, not the Jerry Buss Lakers.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 13, 2013
Next season, Kobe is owed just over $30 million—of which Los Angeles would have to pay most of regardless of his status with the team. They would pay the difference between his overall contract and whatever he signs for with a new team.
However, it would likely keep them from flowing over the luxury tax next season when it becomes incredibly stringent.
The reality with Kobe is very different from the reality with any other player in the NBA. Regardless of the fact that he could miss most of next season (the current prediction is six to nine months), amnestying him would do more bad for the franchise than good.
There are a ton of Lakers fans who identify as Kobe fans, and a move that would jettison him from the team would be a public relations nightmare for Los Angeles.
Is there a possibility that it happens?
We've learned in sports to never say never, but this is Kobe Bryant. His value to this Lakers franchise transcends what he brings on the court.
And for those who think he won't return in prime form, remember the last time you doubted No. 24?