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Using the amnesty provision to shed Kobe Bryant’s onerous $30 million salary next season sounds like a prudent move, but it doesn’t really get the Lakers anywhere.
Even with that hefty contract off the books, the Lakers would still be over the cap if they retain Howard. They’d have a tiny sliver of cap room if they flip Howard for the Griffin-Bledsoe package mentioned earlier, but not enough to make any appreciable difference.
The best thing you could say is that the full mid-level exception would become available to the Lakers, but those contracts tend to attract past-their-prime veterans who become cap-clogging burdens almost before the ink dries on their new contracts.
Yes, the organization would save a boatload of luxury tax dollars, but the savings aren’t as great as they seem considering they still have to pay Bryant his $30 million and would have to sign other players to fill out their roster.
But the biggest repercussion could be a breach of trust with Bryant himself. He was the face of the franchise for 17 years. Letting him go immediately after an injury he sustained while playing 47 minutes a game trying to drag the Lakers to the playoffs might not go over so well.
Kobe may not want to sit out an entire season waiting for the Lakers to offer him a new contract in 2014, especially if he feels he can come back and play most of next season.
Bryant is all about building his legacy. Wasting an entire year waiting on the Lakers’ pleasure to offer him a severely-reduced contract doesn’t quite fit into that picture. He may feel slighted enough by being cut to even join another team in contention to stick it to his former employers.
Amnestying Bryant is a risky move without much reward that the Lakers should not make.