February 21, 2014

Should the Lakers amnesty Kobe Bryant if they could?

At one point last year, some fans and bloggers suggested that the L.A. Lakers should "amnesty" Pau Gasol as the easy way to address some of their salary cap problems, before the team opted on Metta World Peace instead. (And hey, Baskeball-Reference, can you get up-to-date pix of players?)

But, the Lakers have instead run in financial reverse since then, signing Kobe Bryant to a godawful contract extension that must have been done by Jim Buss putting a gun to Mitch Kupchak's head.

They got greedy with the Cavs on a would-be cap-freeing trade of Gasol for Andrew Bynum and it fell through.

Then, Kobe broke his leg. And Steve Nash never has really come back.

That's led two ESPN writers to do a yes/no on whether Kobe should even come back this year or pack it in.

Well, I've blogged previously about why the Lakers should tank, and of how nicely they're now doing it within the West, so you know my answer on that. Answer? Park Kobe's butt, and try to out-tank a couple of additional Eastern teams.

But, the NBA trade deadline day emails column by Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe, where Simmons at one point talks about the idea of making amnesties tradeable, got me to thinking.

Especially if we're at the point about talking whether or not the Mamba should sit down for the rest of the year, why not amnesty him, in a theoretical world?

Since the Lakers amnestied Metta, we'd have to have the Simmons rule in effect, and then the Lakers would have to trade something to one of those teams that still haven't used the amnesty clause. Gasol's expiring contract plus a lottery-protected Laker first-round draft choice (and how many times after this year will we use that phrase) probably would do the trick with, say, the Bulls?

That said, now that we've broached this idea with Kobe, let's take Simmons' amnesty idea in general.

Should the league set floor and ceiling prices on what trading an amnesty is worth?

Or maybe differentiate between Amnesty 1 and Amnesty II with an overhaul of the whole amnesty idea? You know, Amnesty I would be for contracts of $15M a year or more, or, say, $50M or more remaining total value, and Amnesty II would be for lesser contracts. With a new collective bargaining agreement, a team would get, say one Amnesty I and two Amnesty II slots every five years.

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