By Chip Kuehn: The Los Angeles Lakers owners made a huge mistake in what will likely come back to haunt them in the next two seasons by giving Lakers guard Kobe Bryant a 2-year extension for $48.5 million that makes him the NBA’s highest paid player for those two seasons.
The reason why this is a stupid move on the Lakers part is that Bryant is 36-years-old, not 26, and he’s coming off of a torn Achilles injury from late last season. The Lakers don’t even know how he’ll be able to perform coming off the injury. You sure as heck can’t expect Bryant to come out and play well right off the bat after an injury like that, and there are major questions about how well the team will play at all. At best, Bryant might be able to play at a high level by mid to late in the season, and that means that the Lakers owner will be overpaying Bryant during major parts of the season where he’s not performing well.
If the Lakers had led Bryant walk, they could have used the money to sign Carmelo Anthony for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. I think I’d much prefer to have a healthy and young 29-year-old Anthony than I would a hobbled and old 36-year-old Bryant. I’m all for keeping players into their old age on teams, but not when those players are still making the same kind of huge money that they were when they were younger, quicker and playing at the top of their games.
Bryant averaged 27.3 points per game last season, and that’s a high average to be sure. But when you factor in that any pass ghat goes to Bryant goes into the equivalent of a black hole where the ball isn’t returned and it’s thrown up in a scoring attempt, I think it’s not really worth having a player like that on the team. I still think Bryant is a good player, but he’s not as good as his average shows. He scores a lot because he makes a lot of attempts. You can take a lot of players in the league and give them the same amount of scoring attempts as Bryant and believe me, they’re going to score as many points if not more.
The Lakers need to rebuild badly, but with the big contract extension they gave to Bryant, they really dug a hole for themselves for the next two seasons where they won’t be able to add any new players of quality.