The Lakers have heard Mark Cuban’s comments about Kobe Bryant. They’re not amused.
On Friday, the Dallas Mavericks owner said in a radio interview that the Lakers should consider using their onetime amnesty provision on Bryant.
Bryant has one more season and $30.5 million left on his contract. He is one of four players the Lakers can amnesty, and next season is the last chance they can use the money-saving device.
The Lakers weren’t thrilled with the speculation.
“We’re aware of Mark Cuban’s comments and feel they are inappropriate,” Lakers spokesman John Black said Friday. “As to the issue itself, we will not comment publicly on the amnesty issue as it relates to any of our players.”
The Lakers will not file a formal complaint with the NBA, though the league is looking into the matter and can fine Cuban for his comments.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak declined to comment.
Pau Gasol ($19.3 million next season), Metta World Peace ($7.7 million) and Steve Blake ($4 million) are the other three players the Lakers could waive this summer and not pay luxury taxes on their salaries. The Lakers still have to pay the salary of whichever player they amnesty.
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?” Cuban told 103.3 FM in Dallas. “You just don’t know, right? It’s the same reason I wouldn’t get rid of Dirk [Nowitzki]. I’ll take a hit for a season rather than get rid of Dirk. That’s just it. I’ve made that commitment to him over the years and he’s returned that commitment. Maybe that’s selfish, but that’s just the way it is.
“When I say amnesty Kobe, I don’t think they’d do it, but they’ve got some choices to make. Now, they’re in a big market, but they’re still limited. The Knicks, the same thing. Boston, same thing.”
The Lakers have a $100-million payroll this season and are paying $30 million in luxury taxes.
A more punitive luxury-tax system kicks into gear next season, for which the Lakers have already committed $74.3 million to only six players — Bryant, Gasol, World Peace, Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Hill. They would also pay Dwight Howard about $21 million next season if he re-signs with them as a free agent in July.
Gasol or World Peace would be the most likely candidate for the amnesty provision. It would be a public-relations nightmare if the Lakers amnestied Bryant, their all-time leading scorer. Blake does not make enough money, relatively speaking, to warrant consideration.
Players on the Lakers’ roster at the end of the 2010-11 season were the only ones eligible to be amnestied.