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Luke Walton: Exit Interview

I mentioned it yesterday in posting the Onion satire, but no single player on the the Lakers takes more crap- unnecessarily, I might add- among readers of this space than Luke Walton.  Whether it's the mob mentality that pops up periodically on blogs or that his first name can "cleverly" be altered to "Puke," (Get it?  Luke... Puke!) Walton is a lightening rod for criticism. 

Fortunately, the notion that Walton's very presence is some sort of ready-made antidote for winning is easily contradicted by actual measurements of reality, as is the idea he brings nothing to the floor (only LeBron James averaged more assists per 48 than Walton among small forwards.)  It's not that Walton is a world beater, but he's a solid role player who gave the Lakers some important minutes on both ends, particularly as the season went along. 

Walton changed roles throughout the season, going from virtually no playing time in November to starting to voluntarily heading back to the bench. "With our team goal of winning a title, like we ended up doing, talking to Phil I thought and he thought that it would be best for helping the team putting Trevor (Ariza) in there in the starting lineup and using me to help with the flow of the bench, in that role.  It's great when something pays off like that.  Obviously I want to start, I want to play more minutes and be out there as long as I can.  But to make sacrifices and see other guys on your team make sacrifices and then see it pay off in the long run makes it really sweet to witness."

After some comments about keeping this year's squad together, I asked Walton whether or not he could have seen a title coming this fast, given everything that's happened, from losing Shaq to Kobe Bryant's trade demand and so on, over the past few seasons. "Yeah, but looking back on it now I was probably foolish for picturing that," he said. "We weren't close. The team we have right now is way better, at a more advanced championship (level) than what we were dealing with a couple years ago."

More on his hope to keep the team together next season, and the possibility of repeating:

Finally, Walton says his main homework for the summer is to get his body healthy, both to heal previous injuries and hopefully avoid future ones. Plus some words about being part of the third father-son combination in NBA history to win rings... and the pressure it brings to have highly skilled children of his own.

Previous Exit Interviews:


Comments () | Archives (44)

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First to post?

I don't know if this was mentioned before but are the Lakers the championship team whose starters have the fewest years of college ball experience? Three of their starters didn't play college ball while FIsher and Ariza have a combined 5 years between them.

I am not so sure why people are telling Kobe to take less money i mean why should the best player in the world take less money?.. If Ariza or Odom want to be part of a Championship level team they are the ones who should take the pay cut.. The teams with the money to sign them are all mediocre at best.. So i don't see why Kobe should take less money.. And Kobe had a huge loss of endorsement money just 5 years back..and he had to give that gold digger 5 million dollars as a settlment and he he had to buy a 4 million dollar diamond ring to pacify his wife.. Dude has taken a huge pay hit , so i expect him to sign for the max of 5 years 135 million dollars..

Laker Guru-

It's because he makes the most money. I plan on writing about this over the next week or so, but the bottom line is this- because Kobe has the ability to take up the most space on the team's payroll, every dollar he gives back has a much larger impact. If he signs for 110 mil instead of 130, that makes a massive difference. Even if Ariza or Odom agree to play here for less, we're probably talking about maybe five mil (plus or minus a couple) of money "left" on the table.

Beyond that, there's also an element of "how much is enough?" Let's say Kobe left fully half of what he could get on the table... he's still make about 65 million. That's a spectacular amount of money, and again, that's if he takes HALF of what he might get. Combine that with his endorsement money and that which he's already earned, and it's reasonable to ask how much is enough? Obviously you can do that will all of these guys- even DJ Mbenga makes more in a year than most of us do in a decade- but as the numbers get bigger so do the questions. To me, it seems odd to ask guys who have made less and will make less to take much less but not expect the same of the guy who has made more and will make more.

Kobe is not obligated to take less than he can get. Lord knows he's earned it, works his ass off for it, and will continue to try and be the best player he can possibly be, no matter what contract he signs. He's as close to a sure thing as there is in sports. But if he's really interested in making sure the Lakers can afford to put a high quality team around him Kobe has to understand the relationship between what he earns and what the Lakers can put around him.

If Kobe, like KG or Duncan did, leaves even three or four mil a season on the table, that gives the Lakers more flexibility and still lets Bryant earn about 20 mil a year. He ought to make do on that, don't you think?


Laker Guru From India,

We're suggesting that Kobe take less money because with endorsements and all the guy is already filthy rich.

In all honesty, does having $50 million in the bank make that much a difference in your life from having $100 million in the bank? Is that extra money REALLY going to offer a more rewarding life experience? In my mind, enough is enough and for many too much is worse than enough.

I, personally, have never met a kid with a huge trust fund that he didn't have to work for that wasn't screwed up by it to a certain degree. So, the argument, "I need to have another $50 million dollars to take care of my kids" is disengenous. On some level, that much money actually ends up hurting the kids more than helping them.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


"only LeBron James averaged more assists per 48 than Walton among small forwards."

Yeah? Well, Luke Walton doesn't sell auto insurance or throw talcum powder up in the air in a glorious self-absorped display of narcissistic exhibitionism! So, in other words LUKE SUCKS!!!!!!


{Note extreme sarcasm. Luke haters drive me nuts.}

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


edwin gueco

i totally agree... bottom line is we gotta keep the nucleus and everyone else is EXPANDABLE. the core is kobe lamar bynum ariza odom... oh and even difsh.

kupchak job over the next few years is gonna have to be to surround them with good role players who are cheap so we can afford to keep our core.

I SAY TRADE ANYONE FROM OUR BENCH MOB if it means saving money and bringing in more talent. they may have a tight bond and have great off the court chemistry but for the most part as a group proved to be totally INEFFECTIVE in the playoffs therefore are all expandable. ( with the exception of shannon)

like you said theres plenty of really good role players out there in free agency and at the moment all our role players are dirt cheap and have great trade value except for DARE I SAY LUKE

i think if we dont sign ariza or odom there might be a huge backlash and the anti-luke bandwagon will only grow stronger. LOL.

Just a thought...

Thank God Smush Parker and Kwame Brown are gone.

Anyone remember the 10,000 posts arguing that Kwame Brown was the next Bill Russel? Anyone?

I do. They still haunt my dreams.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.



"no single player on the the Lakers takes more crap- unnecessarily, I might add- than Luke Walton"

Huh?? More than Kobe? Are you serious?


Nice response to Laker Guru.

Quite frankly, at this point the two most "valuable" things to Kobe is his legacy and his public image (which ultimately turns into more money through endorsements).

Taking less money so we can resign players...

1. Increases the liklihood that Kobe will retire with more rings and as the LEADER of the next Great Lakers Dynasty, thus enhancing his legacy.

2. Among Haters, and believe me, I've had my fair share of conversations with them, Kobe is still believed to be a self-absorbed, narcissistic, selfish person who cares more about himself than the game. I've spoken to several people about the notion of Kobe taking significantly less money to keep the Lakers long-term in the hunt for a Championship. They all grudgingly admitted that such an act would be a major act of maturity and would improve their image of Kobe.

So... Kobe giving up some money would actually pay him back in dividends significantly.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Money may help a person be less unhappy, but it won't provide true happiness.

Personally, I'd rather spend my retirement years worth $100 million with seven Championships then spend my retirement worth $300 million with four Championships.

I mean, seriously. After $100 million what are you going to do with that much wealth? In good conscience, I'd have to start giving it massively away to charity. Otherwise its just plain empty greed and greed is a sin.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Luke is not my favourite player. But he showed me that he can fit into this team and give them quality minutes..passing , rebounds and defense (given the right matchup of course)

He's selfless, comes off the bench without complaint and has room and time to get better. I think we tend to forget how young a lot of this team is.

They will grow under the pressure they have been exposed to. I think Luke is a positive for this team and I would have never said that in past seasons.

Good on him.

Laker Truth-

You're correct. I meant among readers of the blog.



The Onion has also skewered Kobe Bryant for any number of personality/performance traits. Were those not by accident, too? I love the Onion, but would be careful using it as a tool of real basketball analysis.


Laker Guru,

To add to what BK said, Kobe taking less money makes a difference because the numbers upon hitting the luxury tax are finite. They're set in stone, regardless of a player's merit. That Kobe may "earn his check more than any other player" is ultimately a meaningless argument, because it doesn't change the fact that after a certain payroll is hit, Dr. Buss starts paying the luxury tax. Period. And when one guy's salary could theoretically equal around 1/3 or more of the kitty, that makes it considerably tougher to balance fiscal mindfulness and fielding a winning team.

Plus, I just don't think it's fair to ask literally everyone BUT Kobe to sacrifice. Yes, Kobe works his ass off, but it's not like LO and Ariza (much less the rest of the team) are a bunch of slackers. They bust their ass and play hurt, too. For that matter, Dr. Buss hasn't exactly been a silent owner in creating this empire. Everyone has contributed his share of sweat.

Bottom line, it's simply not a pragmatic decision for Kobe to take a max deal. If he really wants this team intact, he'd be wise to take a little less and do his part. As BK said, he's not truly "obligated" to take a cut of sort. But failing to do so isn't particularly bright if winning is the #1 goal.

To All Sports Philanthropists,
Uhhhh, Jerry Buss has exponentially more money than Kobe. By some of the reasons given to support the idea that Kobe should take a pay cut, shouldn't Buss just pay whatever luxury tax is necessary? Wouldn't that be the more appropriate stance to take? Why must the athlete always sacrifice? Maybe we should all take pay cuts to further line the pockets of our company owners? What is this???


Buss may have exponentially more money than Kobe, but he's also paying more salaries than Kobe. And you're missing the larger point. This isn't about being a sports "philantropist." It's about recognizing that a nearly nine figure payroll (before the tax) is a lot to ask of Buss, no matter how much he makes. He'd be making sacrifices beyond most owners simply getting into this territory. But there are understandable limits.


"Buss is paying more salaries"??? Is Buss struggling or something? I'd love to see how much money
Kobe, and others, make FOR Buss. I'm sure is far more than any of them have, or will be paid? Fine, put it in the player's laps...

It's up to Buss whether this stays "intact".

"like you said theres plenty of really good role players out there in free agency and at the moment all our role players are dirt cheap and have great trade value"

Oh you seem to forget Sasha Vujacic who had shot 0% in the Finals who is paid as much as Luke (only $ 1 million difference in annual salary) and like Luke isn't an expiring contract (2 more years on his contract). A shooter who can't shoot=worthless. Sasha cannot shoot, is an overrated defender, has no post up game, really sucks at dribble penetration, is a below-average passer, can't defend ones, heck cannot defend SG either, and is a big choker (1-9 shooting Game 4 2008 NBA Finals not to mention allowing Ray Allen to drive by him easily without the use of a screen and then goes crying like a little witch).

Shades of Adam Morrison except worse in that his contract isn't an expiring.

For the record: NO ONE is overrating Luke most Laker fans know what he is. YOU decided to say "cross between Luke and Vlad" which is totally false for either player and the "potential" Morrison has is just as much "potential" Kwamay Brown had when playing with Kobe Bryant.

Advice: Lower down your estrogen levels please.


As it stands, Buss is likely to pay more in salary/luxury tax, I believe, than any team not located in Madison Square Garden in the league's history. Dr. Buss is a very wealthy man, but he's not Cablevision. To say the guy hasn't put his money out to make the team competitive is silly. And when you say "sacrifice," I'm sure we'll all worry about how Kobe might manage on, say, 19 million in salary instead of 23.

Hopefully neither of his daughters would have to go to an orphanage for lack of means.


I completely agree with the notion that Kobe should give a little back here, it works on many levels.

It punches a gigantic hole in all that "selfish" talk in the media and amongst haters. It will show that, yes... winning is everything to him.

It also makes it more likely that the team will go on a multi-title run, raising his profile even higher amongst basketball royalty. He cares about legacy.. this would take him to new heights.

It's not hard to imagine that by doing so.. he also raises his marketablilty..the public loves someone who will "do everything it takes" to win. We know Kobe does this on the court and with his preparation.. but this would show that he puts winning ahead of money. Don't sell that short as a marketing tool.

Also... it ensures that he will be able to buy-in as a Lakers part owner in the future. It would be very easy to imagine he and Buss agreeing that Kobe will be allowed to buy a percentage of the team after he retires. Buss doesn't *have* to sell anything to anyone.. but this kind of understanding- which would be a purchase so it isn't some kind of salary cap game- would be a sweetener for any deal.

Anyway.. just some thoughts on why Kobe should give back. Hell.. this team won 65 games with Bynum injured half the year and Shannon Brown just playing a small portion of the regular season. With a full season (hopefully) of a still improving (likely) Bynum and a little more production from Brown... is 70 wins far fetched?

Finally.. Luke can't shoot for a lick.. that's a bummer. But he played very solid most of the playoffs. He got the most of what his body has to offer on defense.. working within the team schemes. I was actually impressed with his d.. showed positioning and effort matter. Is he overpaid? Sure. But it's not like he doesn't work for what he gets.

Why is that a lot to ask of Buss? Understandable limits? It's not about the total payroll, it's about the additional margin created by Kobe's salary and the luxury tax. Buss has one of the top sports franchises in the world. Respectfully, he's not "other owners". You want a result, you pay for it... I would never take a pay cut so that a far richer person can save some money. Doesn't make sense?


No, I don't think Dr. Buss is struggling, but then again, neither is Kobe, so what's your point? And while those players all generate money for Buss, he turns around and hands a chunk of it back to them, and then a score of other people. It takes considerably more money to maintain a franchise than it does to maintain one's lifestyle. Well, it should take more to maintain a franchise, at any rate.

Look, the bottom line is that the salary cap creates unavoidable realities. One of those realities is that Buss will be forced to pay a dollar for dollar luxury tax even if he doesn't keep team entirely intact. He's deep in luxury tax country as it is, much less if the payroll hits nearly 100 mil. And in these economic times where uncertainty means being worried about fans being able to pay for tix, parking, etc., he has to be aware of the bottom line. Doing otherwise means being an irresponsible owner.

And it's not like you're asking Kobe, LO, or Ariza to work for peanuts. These players who "sacrifice" will still come out of the process exceptionally wealthy no matter what. For that matter, they are already exceptionally wealthy. It's just a matter of how much they balance wealth against the chance to win more title.


Yo AK and BK

I'm curious.. Has there ever been any athlete/team leader in recent history who has opted out and taken a paycut??

When lakers signed payton/malone to a paltry 1MIl contracts nobody ever gave shaq grief then?? I know its for the greater good of the team but shouldn't the onus be on LAMAR or even ARIZA to take the paycut not kobe.

Is it kobes fault that kupchak and management overpaid other role players??

I don't know why people resent Dr. Buss wanting to make some money. He takes all the risks, he deserves some of the rewards.

Christian.. am I wrong in thinking that you assume Buss makes a profit of something like $100 million in a Championship season?

I only ask, because it's my understanding that he makes in the 40-60 million range. He's willing to pay a significant luxury tax to keep the team together.. why shouldn't he expect some give back?

Otherwise, he could just pay Kobe the max, not pay Lamar and Ariza at all.. get minimum price replacements and go from there. This team would still go deep in the playoffs.. and possibly cost Buss $30 million cheaper. Would that work for you?

Championships require sacrifice.. all around.

I don't understand? It's just not sound business for Kobe to take less. It doesn't make sense no matter how you slice it. Buss has a choice, as does Kobe. I would contend that Buss has 100% of the control. So why put the power in Kobe's hands? It always seems like the player is made responsible for a team/corporation's ability to field a quality product. That has nothing to do with it. Kobe COULD choose to take less and Buss COULD choose to pay more. But, it's a choice. I was more concerned about who is cast as holding sway over the Lakers future. I think that it is unfair to label Kobe the key to the Lakers fielding a championship team. He's number two on a list of one when it comes to that responsibility. Just don't see how you're framing of this argument makes any sense? Sorry for the length...


I believe both KG and Tim Duncan in one form or another. Again, he's not obligated to do anything, but assuming Dr. Buss is allowed to have a top end to his budget (I think that's reasonable), Kobe's salary has an enormous impact. As for Trevor and LO giving money back... how does that make sense? A) They probably will ahve to anyway to stay in LA (meaning both will likely have more money in an offer somewhere else if they stay), and b) how is it reasonable to expect everyone other than the guy who has made the most, will make the most, and commands the largest part of the payroll to give something back?

If they're expected to "sacrifice" to stay, why not Kobe? Especially when the sacrifice, in relative terms, is smaller than those guys.


Yello Fever,

Gilbert Arenas just opted out and took less than he could have. Shaq (with Miami), KG and Duncan, I believe, all took less money than the maximum possible to help ease team salary concerns.

Yes, you're correct that it isn't Kobe's fault that somebody else on the Laker payroll may be overpaid. But that doesn't matter, because the salary cap is still the salary cap, the luxury tax is still the luxury tax and this is the situation as it stands. Back story is irrelevant and reality often isn't rosy and peachy.

And again, I simply don't think it's fair to ask everyone BUT Kobe to sacrifice, particularly when his potential max salary throws the biggest wrench into the situation. Hoping Kobe takes less doesn't make you an less "loyal" or "devoted" a Kobe fan. It simply means you're rooting for the best scenario to keep a team intact. Honestly, it's a matter of cold and hard common sense.


Hey, I'll be happy to change my stance if you can convince me that Buss' operational expenses are putting him in the red. Or, if his profit margin will shrink to Kobe's salary as a result of "Kobe's salary"... Then I would be wrong in my analysis and will be overjoyed to admit this.


I didn't say Kobe was the #1 decision maker or holds all the power. You're right that it's ultimately Dr. Buss' choice in the end. But Kobe's decision on this front can affect how things shake out more than any other single factor. That simply can't be argued against.


Hey "Some Guy..."
It works for me either way. Just presenting that there are two sides of this and the other side is rarely questioned in these discussions. As far as his profits go, if I am shown that Buss is operating at a deficit then I will gladly reconsider.

Also "Some Guy",
That's my point; Buss holds the cards (pun intended). He can make whatever choice he'd like because he owns the franchise. If Kobe took less money then it's a bonus to Buss. However, being a businessman himself, Buss surely wouldn't "expect" Kobe to take less? My problem is the "expectation" that Kobe "should" take less. And if he doesn't he is a villain...again. I probably wasn't clear in expressing that.

It was good chopping it up with you guys. See ya'!

"It's just not sound business for Kobe to take less"

You're confusing sound business and trying to build a winning team.


As the prodigal son returned to seize the throne once held by his father, Luke Walton is loved and admired by everyone for his fabulous physical skills and world saving exploits. Oh, wait, that was Luke Skywalker. Luke Walton is the often disrespected but basketball savvy veteran small forward who is the Lakers’ lightening rod for criticism and ridicule.

Sadly, it seems like there is a certain element among Lakers fans and bloggers who are never satisfied unless they have a whipping boy to punish, even after winning their 15th NBA championship where their alleged whipping boy was an outstanding contributor. For a fan base that has seen their superstar leader Kobe Bryant unfairly slammed by the sports media over the last decade, you’d think they wouldn’t go native and cannibalize one of their own. After all, we’re no longer talking about Smush, Kwame, or Cookie.

Frankly, I think most of the Luke haters have never played on a basketball team because they definitely don’t understand the dynamics and role that chemistry and camaraderie play in a team’s success. Whether you’re playing in the NBA or the local playground, the teams that win and dominate always have a couple of players who aren’t the stars but who provide the glue and teamwork that creates the winning environment.

For the Lakers, Luke Walton is one of the key bench players who contributes greatly to the chemistry and spirit of the team. He may not have the physical skills that a million college players who never made it to the NBA have and he is not a very clutch player but he is very smart player whose basketball IQ and floor vision are outstanding. And he is a great teammate, whose presence always seems to make the team play better.

Synergism is like a virus or highly contagious disease that spreads like wildfire. One great play ignites another. One dive for the ball makes everybody dive for the ball. One blocked shot makes everybody jump higher. Synergism is the collective output of the team, not the sum of the output of all of the players. Fans need to be careful when they start tinkering with vital parts of the team without understanding their value.

Bottom line, Luke may be a little overpaid but most likely by the time his contract is up, he will have been a pretty damn good investment who earned his keep as certified by the multiple NBA rings that he will have and the knowledge that he played an important role in helping the Lakers win all of those rings. This team needs Luke Walton.



Excellent response to Laker Guru. In more simplistic terms, the reason why Kobe should definitely take $3M to $5M less is that the good will and enhancement to his rep that he will get will end up reaping him 10 times as much in additional endorsements. Kobe is slated to earn $22M next year from the Lakers, which is less than half of the $45M total that Esquire estimates he will earn next year. The truth is that it would actually be a dumb move for Kobe NOT to take less because he would end up earning less in the long run. I think he and his advisors are smart enough to figure that out.



Laker Tom,


Well, I hope so.

Though it is not going to happen, it would be beautiful if it did...

Can you imagine Kobe taking something close to the league minimum to extend his contract?

Can you imagine what that would do for his image?

In this time of INCREDIBLE materialism despite a depression-economy, for the best player in sports to make a statement like that? To say, "It's not just about the money. It's about the love of the game."

THAT would be a historic event that would have a huge impact upon American culture... and Kobe's legacy.

Let's pray it happens.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


You all give yellow ferrari too much credit - I feel he will go the Bellamy route and take all he can get. Besides, lady needs a new transmission. I will apologize if and when he grows up.

I totally disagree with you with regards to Kobe taking a pay cut. You seem to have a vested interest in the lakers by the way you're discussing the subject with Christien.

You just laid out the ground work for Kobe haters. Now, if Kobe refuses to take a pay cut, he is a bad guy. He will be the guy who did not want to SACRIFICE for the good of the team. Never mind that he works the hardest so he can perform for everyone's enjoyment. Never mind that he fills up arenas in every city he plays in and makes lots of money for the franchise owners. He just won a championship for the lakers (not single-handedly, of course) and now you want him to take a paycut as his reward so that Dr. Buss will make that much more money.
It doesn't make sense to me.

Kobe taking a paycut doesn't guarantee a championship next year. All it guarantees is that he will make less money. And you saying "I'm sure we'll all worry about how Kobe might manage on, say, 19 million in salary instead of 23" makes me think you're soliciting support from people who are not millionaires. Are you not believing in what you're saying that you need this kind of tactics.

If Dr. Buss wants to keep the team together as it is now, for a good chance of winning the championship again, he will just have to pay.

I don't get why Kobe should be giving up money. You all realize that that is the equivalent of Kobe paying Jerry Buss? Buss can keep this team together if he's willing to give up money - which he should be. Kobe should not have to pay the Laker's bills he doesn't own the team (yet).

sasha and luke needs to take less money. sasha didnt even make a point in the finals this year. 5 million both of them are making this year, not worth it.the lakers will let go trevar and lamar, but keep sasha and kuke. people always say luke pass the ball good.Its offense that he play in. Put him in any other offenshe not in lthe nba.

I think some Kobe fans are so paranoid that they see other Kobe fans, who have a slightly different perspective, as Kobe haters.

No one here is "setting Kobe up to be the villian". Sorry, you're grasping at straws.

I clearly pointed out that it would be in *Kobe's* best interests in many ways to give back. Or do you not think that a couple of more championships would mean more cash long-term for 24?

Sure, nothing's guaranteed, but it could give him the best shot.

I also have no idea why you think we, or Dr.Buss for that matter, *expect* Kobe to take a cut. We don't. Don't begrudge Kobe getting a max deal at all.. after all, he's certainly earned it.

But I don't begrudge Dr. Buss.. who has lead the organization to *9* titles!!! To operate at a loss. Ever. Without his leadership, this may never have happened.

He deserves to make money every bit as much, if not more than, anyone on that roster. I don't know why anyone would begrudge him making money.. makes zero sense.

What the idea of "shared sacrifice" means is that we have an owner who is willing to make *less profit* to field a winner. Seriously. Why shouldn't we as fans hope that Kobe would do the same?

For the record, I absolutely love Kobe. Always have. The most important thing for me as a fan is to know the players I root for are giving it 100%.. and no one has given more to be excellent than Kobe.

At the same time.. the same could be said for Dr. Buss... or do you think paying $12 million a year for a *coach* is the standard in the league.

I guess my point is.. stop being so friggen sensitive.. we're ALL Lakers fans.. it doesn't mean we have "an agenda" as someone ridiculously insinuated about the great writers that host this blog. It means we hope this team can go on a multiple title run and that Kobe giving up a portion of salary could go a looooong way toward making that happen.

Let the guy finish his contract... He has more than earned it. A contract is a contract... It is management rsponsibility that it stays that way and at the same keep the quality high...

I am a businessman.. and no way would I expect my employee to sacrifice his salary so that I could continue fielding high quality product.. It goes with the territory I am in...In fact when employees are paid well and knows that thier employer takes care of them.. they will perform very very well... it is not the other way around...

I think it is Kobe's perrogitive whether to opt out and sign for less.

IMO, he will get he will get a chance for more money and endorsements with a stronger team surrounding him especially since age and diminishing skills will eventually catch up to him.

With a strong team he won't have to expend as much energy and extend his career and enhance his legacy.

It has already been discussed about the more money he can earn not related to his Laker pay. Endorsements etc.

And as far as Buss taking hit he is while Kobe extends his earning power,image and career. If Kobe can demand to be traded so he can have better players around him, Buss can ask if Kobe could help him out too by opting out and leaving 4-5 million on table to help keep and get better players still.

More on that later.



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