There may be a silver lining to Kobe Bryant's apparent torn Achilles tendon, according to ESPN's Amin Elhassan. He writes that the Lakers could look into using their amnesty provision on the 34-year-old guard to save millions of dollars in luxury tax money, all while waiting for his eventual return before re-signing him.
The amnesty clause, created in the NBA's 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, allows a team to waive a player and thus wipe their salary off the salary and luxury tax totals.
Bryant's contract has one year left worth upwards of $30 million. And while amnestying Bryant would still pay him that amount, it would shave that money off the payroll that, with Bryant, would be around $100 million should Dwight Howard re-sign this offseason. With $85 million in luxury taxes because the Lakers are well over the estimated $72 million luxury tax threshold, Los Angeles would be saving in that regard.
For the Lakers to re-sign Bryant, he would have to sit out an entire year until the summer of 2014, because players cannot re-sign with the teams that amnestied them until the end of their current contract. Assuming Bryant's injury is as bad as expected, it's quite possible he'll be out for the entirety of next season.
Elhassan writes that Los Angeles would have to come to an agreement with Bryant to re-sign with the Lakers.
Even so, there is also the risk that another NBA team signs Bryant for dirt cheap, although such a team would have to expect that Bryant misses a good portion, if not all, of the 2013-14 season. Such a bold move by another team would also risk Bryant refusing to play for them.
This isn't the first talk of Bryant being the surprise target of the Lakers' remaining ability to amnesty a player. Though it was said off the cuff and in jest, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested on a radio show in February that Los Angeles look into amnestying Bryant.
The Lakers guard jabbed Cuban after his Lakers beat the Mavericks with a tweet that read, "Amnesty THAT."