How the mighty have fallen. Kobe Bryant, once considered one of the greatest players in the entire league the past decade, has “zero value” according to an unnamed NBA general manager who said that the Los Angeles Lakers star’s $48.5 million contract makes him an undesirable player in the league today.
In a lengthy article by Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated, Bryant’s contract is mentioned as “the worst in the game” and that “Kobe’s value” is zero, at least to one GM who was asked about the rich two-year deal for the 36-year old.
“The contract, widely derided as the worst in the game, makes Bryant nearly impossible to move, even were the Lakers to try. Asked about Kobe’s value on the market, one GM answers definitively: ‘Zero. Look at that number. Who takes him?’” Ballard writes.
The GM’s contention that Bryant with his huge contract is untradeable is a valid point especially because NBA teams are restricted by the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and salary cap rules. Simply stated, the $23.5 million 2014-2015 season salary and $25 million makes it impossible for any franchise to build a contender around the aging Lakers star.
This includes the Lakers, which struggled mightily in the offseason to build a team that can threaten the tough Western Conference. After extending Bryant, the Los Angeles squad had to settle with the likes of Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer in separate deals but both are not expected to help the Lakers reach contender status. The Lakers did get a promising big man in the draft in Julius Randle but the rookie is not expected to contribute right away. L.A. also retained the services of veterans Nick Young and Jordan Hill—complementary pieces at best in today’s NBA.
Even with a healthy Kobe Bryant—still an unsettled issue considering the veteran is coming off two major surgeries—the moves are seen as respectable at best and even that could not be enough against a tough Western Conference which features the defending NBA champions San Antonio Spurs; constant contenders Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook; Hollywood rivals Los Angeles Clippers with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
And that’s just the top of the list out West; also pegged to make the playoffs—and ranked way higher than the Kobe Bryant’s Lakers—are the Dallas Mavericks which stole Chandler Parsons in free agency to join Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis; the Houston Rockets, which had a bad offseason but still have Dwight Howard, James Harden and the come-backing Trevor Ariza; the Golden State Warriors with the Splash Brothers in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; and the Portland Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge.
That’s just seven teams that will be considered shoo-ins to the postseason. Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers have to battle up-and-coming teams like the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets—all of which have young cores that are expected to take the next level in the upcoming seasons and battle for a playoff spot as well.
Kobe Bryant even at 36 years old is still expected to do a lot more for the Lakers if he wants to lead the squad to an improbable playoff appearance. Only then will he prove that he is worth the $48.5 million contract given to him by the Los Angeles franchise. If not, the anonymous NBA general manager will be correct in his assessment that his contract for the Lakers—or other franchises for that matter— has zero value for basketball reasons.