The biggest questions marks as of now heading into next summer is the state of Kobe Bryant and his impending free agency. Bryant has stated he’d play for no other team but the Lakers, but also stated he wouldn’t take a pay cut. Seen mainly as a negotiating ploy, Bryant is still expected to have a big payday with his final contract.
Jim Buss assured fans that Bryant wouldn’t become a free agent in an interview with ESPNLA, also stating the team is negotiating with him.
“I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent,” Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday night. “That’s not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He’s a Laker legend and always will be. I don’t think we’re done winning championships with him yet.
“[Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak and [Bryant's agent] Rob Pelinka have been talking, but with him being hurt, it has slowed the process some. I don’t know when it’ll get done, but I have faith in Rob and Mitch to work things out.
The max Bryant can earn next season is over $30 million, but he won’t be earning that much next year. If the Lakers get Bryant signed prior to free agency, it helps clear up their free agency issue. All the Lakers free agents will have cap holds associated with them, with Bryant’s taking up over $30 million in space. This rule is in place so teams can not sign free agents, then go over the salary cap in resigning their own players. This makes it all the more important the Lakers get a deal done prior to July 1, 2014.