Lakers Rumors: Kobe Bryant Refuses Pay Cut to Help Free Agency Run as Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James Top Targets in 2014, Salary Cap Space Issue

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Jul 11, 2013 09:42 AM EDT
Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) watches free throws at end of game against the Portland Trail Blazers during second half of their NBA basketball game.(Photo : Reuters) "

The Los Angeles Lakers are prepping for a big summer...next summer. After missing out on Dwight Howard, Los Angeles appear to be going with the idea of signing a few mid-level free agents, save on the salary cap space and make a run on several marquee players in 2014 when they have a lot of money to work with. The Lakers could possibly have even more money to work with if Kobe Bryant agrees to pay cut in his contract. Not so fast, says Bryant.

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Many assume that Bryant, being the team leader of the Lakers, will take a pay cut to help the team out. Dirk Nowitzki is going to do it. Bryant would do the same, right? Bryant is currently earning $30 million in salary from the Lakers. The team will bring Bryant back when his contract ends in 2014, but hopefully at a smaller salary. In true negotiating form, Bryant says that may not happen.

"I'm not taking any at all-that's the negotiation that you have to have," Bryant said. For me to sit here and say, 'Oh yeah, I'm just going to take a huge pay cut.' Nah, I'm going to try to get as much as I possibly can."

It can be assumed that the salary cap number will be around $60 million or a little less. Steve Nash will be the only player on the books with $9.7 million in 2014. If Bryant demanded the same contract, the Lakers would have $40 million on two players alone. That might give them room to sign one more max contract. There is no way someone like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony will leave their current teams to play with just Nash and Bryant and some average guys.

If Bryant wants another ring, taking a pay cut is really the only option for him. Yes, Bryant is competitive, but he cannot win a title with just he and Nash. If Bryant could take a cut around $10 million or less, which would give the Lakers enough to chase two max contract players. He could follow in the footsteps of veterans like Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan who sacrificed half their salaries to help the their respective teams.

Bryant said the business side of basketball is uncomfortable and strange for the athlete. He is not afraid of the backlash, but he also wants to win a ring. Something will have to give and it will be that $30 million salary.

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