- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he was just trying to help educate folks on the collective bargaining agreement when he hypothetically suggested that the Los Angeles Lakers should consider using the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers weren't amused by Cuban's comments during his appearance Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, calling them "inappropriate" in an official statement.
And after scoring 38 points in the Lakers' 103-99 win over Cuban's Mavericks on Sunday, Byrant shot back on Twitter.
"Amnesty THAT," Bryant wrote.
Cuban later saluted Bryant's postgame tweet, saying via Twitter: "Nice to know there is a least one team and their players, outside of the Mavs, that listen to everything I say.
"But I do have to give props to @kobebryant for a great tweet. #Welldone."
Cuban addressed his previous comments before the game.
"Any time you try to explain the CBA, it's hard to do without giving an example," he said. "Whenever the commissioner or anybody talks about the CBA, they talk about Dallas and Tyson Chandler or Dallas and Dirk or whatever. You've got to use examples.
"I was clear saying it was hypothetical and I didn't expect it to be that way, but it was a good example because they have the highest payroll and the highest-paid player in the league. That's the end of the story."
The question that prompted Cuban's hypothetical: Are you surprised by the state that the Lakers are in?
After expressing some surprise at the Lakers' struggles this season, Cuban steered the conversation back to the CBA, which had been a subject of discussion during much of his appearance.
"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 on the radio show. "You just don't know, right? It's the same reason I wouldn't get rid of Dirk (Nowitzki).
"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."
Bryant is on the books for a league-high $30.45 million salary next season, the last year of his contract.
"We've always kind of marched to the beat of our own drum (in L.A.), but I'm sure if (Cuban) wants to amnesty Dirk, that's something we'll entertain," Bryant said after Sunday's game.
The Lakers' payroll is slightly more than $100 million this season and will probably be in that same range next season if Howard re-signs in the offseason.
This is the last season of a dollar-for-dollar penalty for teams over the luxury tax limit ($70.307 million 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.
Cuban has a history of verbally jousting with the Lakers, with former coach Phil Jackson and center Shaquille O'Neal his favorite sparring partners. His recent inflammatory comments about the Lakers include predicting chemistry problems this summer and saying "I just hope they suck" before the season opener.
Could Cuban have been intentionally pricking the Lakers again?
"That's too easy," Cuban said. "When Phil (Jackson) was here, it was fun.
"It's nowhere near as fun. Even Shaq -- they would always take the bait."
1hChris Broussard and Brian Windhorst