Love them or hate them, you have to admit one thing about the Los Angeles Lakers: They don't do anything small. They win championships, they draw huge crowds, and they get the best players.
But when those players are hurt, they also lose the most money.
Lakers franchise cornerstone Kobe Bryant has officially announced he is out for the season, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:
Kobe statement: "Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received...— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) March 12, 2014
"...from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp."— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) March 12, 2014
With their star (not to mention the league's highest-paid player) on the shelf, the Lakers are taking a historically unprecedented bath on his $30 million-plus 2013-14 salary.
Per Rotowire.com's Jeff Stotts:
Kobe Bryant's 76 games missed to injury this season will cost the Lakers $28 million in salary, the most expensive injury in NBA history.— Jeff Stotts (@RotowireATC) March 12, 2014
Bryant played in only six games, totaling just 177 minutes. That adds up to quite an expensive dollar-per-minute rate, per ESPN's Darren Rovell:
$172,051: Amount Kobe was paid per on-court MINUTE this season— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 12, 2014
The good news for Kobe and the Lakers is that his absence has allowed the team to completely bottom out for a 2014 draft pick. According to Tankathon.com, the Lakers' 22-42 record gives them a 1-in-5 chance of selecting in the top three.
Regardless of how the lottery shakes out, considering the strength of this year's class, Bryant has a good chance of getting a talented new teammate in the 2015 season.
And the Lakers will need some reinforcements to come on the cheap, as Bryant signed a hefty two-year extension in November—$23.5 million in 2014-15 and $25 million in 2015-16, according to ShamSports.com. That's a lot of scratch to pay out for a player creeping up on his fourth decade.
Can Bryant, who will turn 36 years old before the start of next season, possibly repeat the performance of his last full season, when he posted 10.9 win shares?
Though Ding reported that Bryant's knee has been slow to recover, the future Hall of Famer will undoubtedly put in the time and effort to get himself back to 100 percent. It remains to be seen, however, whether his extended rehab translates to elite play on the court.
* All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.