Every season, Bill Simmons of ESPN writes his annual “Worst NBA Contracts” for his website Grantland. This year, Bill decided to list his “Top 30 Worst NBA Contracts” and one Laker found himself on the list. Fresh off a two year, $48 million extension, Kobe Bryant was listed as the sixth worst contract in the league.
According to Bill Simmons, he doesn’t think the Lakers should pay Bryant that significant amount of money if they want to win another championship:
“You can’t pay Kobe $78.95 million through 2016 if you’re trying to win the title. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe the Lakers didn’t care about winning a title.”
While Kobe has only appeared in six games this season, he has helped the franchise to seven Finals appearances and has delivered five NBA Championships. The idea that the Lakers are not trying to win titles is sure to anger some fans. This is still a franchise who has only missed the playoffs three times since moving to Los Angeles and has won at least 30 games every season.
In the middle of a disappointing season, Simmons believes it’s a stopgap move and the Lakers are looking toward the future:
“So with that ridiculously unnecessary Kobe extension, they bought two extra years of … um … relevance? It’s a stopgap move, that’s it. They’re already thinking about 2015 (Kevin Love), 2016 (Durant) and 2017 (Westbrook).”
The Lakers have already been mentioned in rumors connecting them to Kevin Love and have long wanted to add a superstar to play alongside Kobe and then take over once Bryant retired. The Lakers thought they had their future superstar in Dwight Howard, but things went wayward.
While Kobe’s new contract does cut into the team’s salary cap, there is still room for management to offer a max contract to a player like Carmelo Anthony this summer or Kevin Love next summer. While Kobe may never be the player he once was, he is still capable of being an elite scorer and the amount of jersey sales and media attention he brings to the storied Lakers franchise is too much for the team to let go. The Lakers have continued to put faith into Bryant and hope he can deliver another championship in his final two seasons.
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