If Kobe Bryant smiles from the bench more than usual on Friday night as he watches his Los Angeles Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs, we might know why. On Friday, the Lakers pay their shooting guard $24,363,044, which is the swell majority of the $30,453,805 owed to Bryant for the 2013-14 season, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The league limit for such a unique "balloon" payment is 80 percent, and Bryant is right at the maximum allowed. He will receive approximately $6.1 million over the course of the season like his teammates, but to receive more than $24 million in one payment is of course not common.
It's the last year of Bryant's maximum deal signed in April of 2010. The three-year, $90 million contract will officially come to an end when the calendar turns to July 2014. The Lakers have expressed their desire to bring Bryant back, but of course the Achilles tear he's currently working to return from is the biggest question mark.
Los Angeles could sign Bryant, who is 35 years old, to a contract extension starting at the $1.4 million veteran's minimum or pay him something close to his current deal. The latter would be risky, not only because Bryant is aging, but because it would put a big hit on the Lakers' cap space for the summer of 2014 -- currently, only Steve Nash, Nick Young and Robert Sacre are signed for the 2014-15 season.