Mark Cuban loves messing with the Los Angeles Lakers and hates the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
Those two passions intersected when Cuban made a suggestion Friday morning that a purple-and-gold fan base might consider blasphemous.
“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 during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Ben and Skin Show.”
Cut ties with Kobe Bryant to cut costs?!
That sounds crazy, but the Lakers are looking at ridiculous luxury tax bills if they don’t do something drastic to reduce their payroll, which is slightly more than $100 million this season and will probably be in that same range next season if Howard re-signs.
This is the last season of a dollar-for-dollar penalty for teams over the luxury tax limit ($70.307 this season). Beginning next season, the luxury tax starts at $1.50 per dollar and escalates for every $5 million a team is over.
If the Lakers are $30 million over, their luxury tax bill would be a whopping $85 million next season. If L.A. trims the payroll down to $20 million over the tax, the Lakers would still get hit with a $45 million bill. And they’d be subject to the even heavier repeater rate in 2014-15, although Steve Nash's $9.7 million salary is the only contract currently on the Lakers' books for that year.
Bryant is on the books for a league-high $30.45 million salary next season, the last year of his contract.
“You just don’t know, right?” said Cuban, whose Mavs avoided the luxury tax the last two years despite Dirk Nowitzki's $20-plus million salary by letting Tyson Chandler and other key pieces of the 2011 title team leave in free agency. “It’s the same reason I wouldn’t get rid of Dirk. I’ll take a hit for a season rather than get rid of Dirk. That’s just it. I’ve made that commitment to him over the years and he’s returned that commitment. Maybe that’s selfish, but that’s just the way it is.
“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.”