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Even Phil Jackson thinks the Lakers paid Kobe Bryant too much

Jan 31, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder Getty Images

Kobe Bryant is taking a $7 million pay cut next season.

Of course, he’s still going to make $23 million and be the highest paid player in the NBA, which left a lot of Lakers’ fans shaking their heads. They get the business reasons this is a good deal for the Lakers, but how does this really help their rebuilding effort again?

You can add Phil Jackson to the list of the confused.

He was interviewed Thursday night on NBA TV and asked if at Kobe’s age and coming off an Achilles injury if Jackson would have re-signed him (answer transcribed by Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie)”

“Yeah, I would have,” Jackson answered quickly, before briefly pausing and adding: “They paid him more than I would have gone for….

“But what he’s given to this organization, what he gives back — he brings a certain sense of, ‘We are going to win,'” Jackson said. “You’ve got to have a guy on the team that doesn’t settle for second. That’s one of the areas where the value of Kobe, even at this age, is terrific.”

This summer the Lakers have everyone but Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (who in theory could retire) and Robert Sacre coming off the books (there are options on Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly). The idea is they can go attack the free agent market, except with cap holds and the Kobe deal they can’t offer ‘Melo a full max deal. Not that they want him anyway. They’d love to talk to LeBron James but he is not likely leaving Miami. The focus is more on 2015 (when Nash is off the books for sure).

Really the next two seasons for the Lakers is going to be an extended Kobe farewell tour distraction while they try to figure out the long-term plan with the roster. With that in mind the Kobe contract isn’t really devastating.

But it did kill some flexibility for the Lakers.

  1. antistratfordian - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Well said, Zen Maestro.

  2. thetooloftools - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Kobe is being rewarded for being the intense player he was and is. LeBron James is leaving Miami. That is a fact. He’s going to opt out and walk. He has no loyalty to any team or town and the big three have just about run out of gas. I could see LeBron going to NY or LA. His Miami thing is a been here / done that / moving on thing. I know one thing.. he’s not going back to Cleveland until he’s ready to retire.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      I don’t think he’s coming to the Lakers. We already have Xavier Henry, clearly the SF spot is taken care of for a while.

    • adamsjohn714 - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:29 AM

      Kobe HAS been rewarded to the tune of $300 million dollars. They paid him for his play. They owed him nothing.

  3. redmond24 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    What’s interesting to me is that in that interview he stated that Kobe will still be a scorer. And he left open the possibility of him returning to coaching.

    This story comes in the same week as Magic promising not to criticize the Lakers anymore as his incessant criticism hampers future recruiting (If Magic doesn’t have faith in ownership, why would prospective recruits?).

    What Lakers have to offer is: cap space, Phil Jackson possibly returning to coach the Lakers (he’s been hanging around the association a lot and has been more welcomed by Jim Buss), a (now) supportive Magic Johnson, and a Kobe Bryant able to score 20+ points, and a good or decent draft pick.

    Plus the weather and market size, Hollywood lifestyle etc.

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      I will tell you that despite what he will say in this kind of setting, Phil Jackson will not return to coaching. Anywhere.

      • dinofrank60 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Not only do I agree, but this seemed to be a light jab at Jim Buss.

      • redmond24 - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        How true were rumors that Phil Jackson required that he not travel road games? He’d have his protege Kurt Rambis around.

        Still I think my point stands that Phil Jackson at least being involved with the association is a potential draw for free agents. It’ll take a group effort of well-known and respected personalities to fill the void of Jerry Buss. I think the Lakers are trying to reinforce that coalition — hopefully.

      • Kurt Helin - Jan 31, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        I heard it was not something serious from Phil but when the Lakers were trying to spin the situation after it blew up in their face they floated it out there trying to gain leverage.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Don’t forget the best avocados.

    • coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      I thought it was pretty clear when Jackson was on Fox Sports Live last week that he will never come back to coaching

  4. braven4evr - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    At the time of the signing I stated he was over paid and took a beating for it. Fact is he’s over paid, plain and simple!

    • kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      Explain how he is overpaid. If the LAKERS decide he is worth that much money to the franchise, how is he overpaid? How much money has Kobe made for the franchise? How much money will he make for it over the next two seasons? Most certainly more than what they will pay him.

      • kclanton80 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        He is extremely overpaid for his value as a player currently. If the goal is to win a ring, then his contract is an albatross that will make it hard for the team to rebuild.

        If we are talking about being a box office draw and putting butts in seats at staples center, then he might possible be worth it. However, this might not last long though as the loses continue to mount even after Kobe returns. With or without Kobe this is a sub par team. His attitude of ” not settling for less” won’t mean much if his body is just way past it’s prime.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        Explain how he is overpaid?

        The Lakers, as both the team and Kobe say, are about winning championships.

        Yes, Kobe WILL make them money even with what they are paying him.

        However, as good as Kobe has been and still is (or was before his injuries – we all need to see him play now after these injuries), he is NO longer worthy of being paid the most in the league for what he does on the court alone anymore.

        Yes, he makes the organization money, but it appears that the team chose making money over trying to win a championship.

        Paying him that much (highest in the league still) for what he produces is no longer wise.

        LeBron is obviously better than Kobe now and has been for a few yrs and LeBron has made the EXACT same salary as Chris Bosh since they’ve been on the Heat.

        So if you only look at their bottom line (cash) then he is not overpaid.

        However, their bottom line is supposed to be winning championships and giving that much money to Kobe, at his age, was NOT the best thing to do to try and win a championship.

        I feel pretty darn safe in saying that the Lakers will NOT win a championship in the next two yrs of Kobe’s extension…

      • kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Are you guys blind?! Do you really think the LAKERS are going to win a title in the next two seasons?! II ask you how?!! If you don’t have LBJ, KD or a lineup like Indy’s how are you going to win a title?! I repeat, the LAKERS are simply keeping the fan base happy until 2015-16 when Kobe’s contract will be done. Mitch knew EXACTLY what he was doing by only giving him a two year deal. It amazes me that numbskulls on an online sports blog think they know more about running a pro franchise than those that actually run one. The LAKERS are 2nd only to the Knicks in value, the franchise didn’t get to that point by being dumb. And, unlike the Knicks, the LAKERS win titles AND make money!! Let me say it one more time, the LAKERS are not going to win a title in the next two seasons whether they pay Kobe 20 mill a season or 2 mill a season. It is basically a 3 team league. Indy, Miami and Oklahoma are the only teams with a legit chance to win a title.

  5. kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Jim and Mitch knew when they gave Kobe that contract they are probably not going to be able to lure LeBron away from Miami. LBJ does not want to go to his 3rd team. And I agree they probably aren’t that excited about signing a soon to be 30 year old Melo to a long term contract. Who else were they going to pursue? Paul George wasn’t leaving Indy either. Why would he leave a potentially championship roster? Therefore, why not reward Kobe for what he has meant to the franchise and the city of L.A.? The LAKERS can have an iconic figure for two more seasons then reload after his contract comes off the book. Initially the plan was to have CP3, D12 and Kobe right now. And they would’ve pulled it off had Stern not caved to a couple of owners whining about the LAKERS being positioned for another run of titles. Subsequently, Plan A got blown up by the powers that be and, without CP3 in a LAKERS jersey, D12 decided to bolt. So the LAKERS resorted to Plan B, which is to let Kobe have his two year farewell tour and reload in 2015-16.

    • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      “Paul George wasn’t leaving Indy either. Why would he leave a potentially championship roster?”

      Statements like this show very little understanding of how contracts and restricted free agency work. Their was absolutely no chance George was leaving Indy and it had nothing to do with their current roster.

      • casualcommenter - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        Yep. As I said at the time, when fans were “discussing” Paul George potentially hitting restricted free agency, here’s what would happen if another team made a play for George.

        Step 1: Other team offers George a max contract.
        Step 2: Pacers match the offer.
        Step 3: Paul George is forced by the rules of the CBA to accept the Pacers’ offer.

        The end. There was never any chance of George leaving – restricted free agency is called “restricted” for a reason.

      • kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        If that is the case, why did PG have to come out and say he didn’t see going to L.A.? If there was no chance of it happening why did he even comment on it? But excuse me for not being as educated on the CBA as you obviously are. My whole point is, the LAKERS are probably not getting the top free agents this off season. Therefore, keep the fan base happy and sign Kobe. Then look forward to 2015 & 16.

      • bougin89 - Feb 3, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        He commented on it because he was asked the question if he could see himself playing in LA. Their was never a chance of him signing in LA this summer as a restricted free agent.

      • 00maltliquor - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        I’m sorry bougin, you do know your stuff from the comments I’ve read from you in the past, but it wasn’t like him not leaving was at 100%. He would have been a Free Agent. Albeit a Restricted free agent, but a free agent nonetheless. More like 99.999999998% chance of being gone. So no, kb2408 saying that was not preposterous.

        I mean, he could have been found out to have Brandon Roy knees in a few months if he hadn’t already accepted the extension and that could have scared off the Pacers from a max contract, then some team willing to take a chance could have stupidly taken the gamble and poached him.

        Of course this is just a wild hypothetical, but weirder stuff has happened. Point being is that although the chances were slim to none, and slim just left the building (-Chick Hearn), there was still a micro-percentage of a chance.

      • bougin89 - Feb 3, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        Well weird things could happen but in order for Paul George to leave, Indy would have had to allow it to happen and in no way shape or form were they going to allow that.

        Unless a freak injury or something then yes it could be possible Indy would have agreed to sign and trade him.

    • kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      @casual…PG wasn’t going to be restricted “forever”! Had he not signed a new deal he would’ve become an unrestricted fa after next season, correct?

      • bougin89 - Feb 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Players go on the advice of their agents. What agent would advise his player to take a one year $7ish million(i’m too lazy too look up the exact figure for Paul George) dollar deal instead of a contract in the range of $90 million guaranteed?

    • bkbell3 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      That’s crap stern was acting as the owner of New Orleans and they were rebuilding and didn’t need to take on large contracts of aging players. Look at the young talent on NO now. they have cap space and reasonable contracts and are poised to be good for the nest 3-5 years. And this is coming from a guy whose teams are LA and the knicks. Yes some owners whined but business wise for NO it was absolutely the right call and i would of loved to have Paul but had reservations about a ball dominate point guard playing with Kobe.

  6. casualcommenter - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    I look forward to the inevitable “vague” tweet by Kobe on this, followed by Phil apologizing to Kobe, and then Kobe forgiving him.

    Seriously, it seems like Phil makes a semi-controversial comment about Kobe every few months nowadays, and it always leads to the same resolution.

  7. ranfan12 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Everyone knows they did. They rushed to a decision and didn’t want another free agent tragedy again. Although phil also mentioned that he understood that he knew what the lakers did it and how it would benefit them. Also seemed like he was hinting that they should’ve signed him

  8. billtetley53 - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Well KB 2408, at least you finally admitted you know nothing about the cba. Its about time.
    Although you didn’t have too. People can tell by what you post that you didn’t / don’t have a clue.

    David Kahn ran a team as GM, pretty sure a casual commenter on here could do better. Same goes for Isiah Thomas.
    These basketball people aren’t infallible, that’s why they get fired.

    The lakers aren’t going to be good, because Dwight Howard was smart and left this sinking ship.
    He knew he’d have to play 2nd fiddle to an old ,egotistical, now injury prone, primadonna.
    Then, after he left, the roster is decimated.
    He also knew young guys like Irving and Love were not going to leave $ on the table to come to the lakers. Only nimrods like you think that. He was able to afford that luxury because he was drafted under the old cba and his salary is higher.
    He also so that outside of himself that. once Kobe is gone, Gadol not resigned or traded(if Howard stayed), Nash not resigned, that there were no tradeable assets on the roster.

    This team is going to be bad to mediocre for aing time, not just 2 years.

    You keep harping on the Celtics and how the lakers just reload. Well, yes, they DID, but aren’t able to operate like that anymore,(here’s where your lack of knowledge of the cba comes in to play).
    The lakers will get a decent player in this year’s draft. After that, the continuous trading of 1st rounders catches up to them. So you have this team, plus say Aaron Gordon. Do they add secondary free agents this year? According to you, no. So what happens the following year when the big names stay put? Kobe retires and they have Aaron Gordon, no 1st round pick, no tradeable assets outside of Gordon himself and no other way to improve.

    You’re a fool if you think any different. Kobes salary has hamstrung this franchise for years. The Celtics did the smart thing, they traded their Kobe(Pierce) and Garnett, they got a plethora of players and picks in return, they have FIVE 1 st rounders coming, a great pg in Rondo and have flexibility and pieces to make trades with. The lakers on the Tyne other hand, are a roster full of d league players and old broken down, past their prime players.
    Kobe is now untradeable, giving him a new contract before seeing him Olay was idiotic. How’d he going to like not playing for titles for 2 years by the way?

    If the fans would be in an uproar if Kobe got traded, then they are as dumb ad you and not about what’s best for the team.

  9. mogogo1 - Feb 1, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Nobody wants to tell a legend goodbye… particularly not young, inexperienced owners who have no clue what they’re doing and who are still smarting from his last grand plan blowing up in his face. Was it worth not progressing as a team for a few years to pay Kobe the big bucks? Because that is the basic outcome of what happened. Buss the Younger only looks one step ahead, so he never saw that coming.

  10. xli2006 - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    The Lakers wont compete in the West until they clear that deal and move these past-their-prime Vets.

    Kobe/Nash/Gasol? That is a stellar lineup… in 2005.

    • coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Gasol comes off the books after this season, Nash very well may end up retiring after the season. The Lakers have plenty of cap space to play with next year if they have a specific big name free agent in mind.

      In an era where it is very rare for players to play their entire career with one team, I think paying Kobe 24 mill per season after this season is more than fair given what he has meant to that franchise both on and off the court

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