Despite Injury, Kobe Bryant’s Contract Still Makes More Sense Than You’d Think

Kobe Bryant’s bloated contract with the Los Angeles Lakers seems like a mistake now that he’s been declared out for the season, and his body seems too broken for him to play through much of the next two, either. But it's still, ultimately, with its reason.

The Lakers may be in pain now and in the short term future, but the team is willing to wait as they design something more lasting than what the current day's options allow for. And Bryant's outsized contract is an essential, if prickly, part of their longview strategy.

Many thought it was a bad choice even before Bryant’s body gave way so evidently to old age. For skeptics of the decision, Bryant’s injury only compounded the folly of his deal. And their point isn’t hard to see: at $48.5 million over two seasons, Kobe might be making as much as a million dollars per game if his health continues to restrict his availability. Maybe more.

From Grantland's Zach Lowe:

Making Bryant the highest-paid player in the NBA over the next two seasons is, objectively, not a smart thing. He’s 35 years old, and he has not played a single minute of in-game basketball after suffering a traumatic injury that has devastated nearly every player who has suffered it and managed to stay in the league.

This is not to mention how much that figure hampers the Lakers as they try to attract free agents or make trades for quality players. Bryant’s pay, alone, makes up more than a third of the NBA’s hard $58.679 million salary cap.

His hit on the team's salary load is a rare holdover from the league's previous CBA—the Lakers haven't adjusted to a changing NBA financial context, preferring to pay Bryant a figure commensurate with his older days. And it's taking up room that could be offered to other superstars—as it stands the Lakers only have room to bring in one more max contract; not two.

But, s...

About the Author