Kobe Bryant is arguably the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, and it would be difficult to imagine him playing anywhere else considering the 35-year-old’s impressive accomplishments have all come wearing purple and gold. He has five championships and is widely considered one of the five greatest players in the history of the NBA.
Whether he lands top or bottom of that list is open to debate, but it is wise to keep in mind that his career is not yet finished.
Although he tore his Achilles tendon at the death of the 2012-13 regular season, Bryant dramatically carried the Lakers to the playoffs despite a snake-bitten season where no Laker escaped injury.
Without openly questioning his ability to bounce back, the Lakers appear to be waiting to see No. 24’s effectiveness following the injury before making any decisions on re-signing the living legend.
The Lakers have positioned themselves to make a run at the free agent class of 2014, and only Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Nick Young have guaranteed contracts past the 2013-14 season, meaning the Lakers have plenty of money and cap space available.
Bryant is due to earn $30.45 million before the end of the 2013-14 season, and his high salary is the primary reason Bryant should seriously be included as one of the names on the list of free agents hitting the market in 2014.
The Lakers have already been linked with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and the free agent class of 2014 also includes Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Luol Deng, and several other players that would probably look good wearing purple and gold. If Bryant wants to come back to the Lakers and win a sixth title past 2014, he would need to reverse his current view on taking a pay cut.
The Lakers have not publicly commented on Bryant taking a salary cut, but Bryant did explain that he had no plans on reducing his salary when he was asked about it in July. Considering the Lakers have made no secret about their desire to attract and acquire top free agents in the summer of 2014, Bryant’s willingness to take a pay cut will likely be the deciding factor on how long he plays with the Lakers, as the team transitions to life after the Kobe Bryant era.
Bryant most recently appeared as the face of the new Lakers jerseys. The black jerseys featuring the gold trim have become a source of debate in the southland with most fans salivating over the new look. However, the irony of seeing Bryant present the new look of the Lakers should not be lost on most fans considering the new look Lakers will likely not include Kobe Bryant—unless he takes a pay cut, of course.