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Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant insists that he took enough of a discount on his current contract to allow the franchise to be competitive in free agency.
Bryant was speaking ahead of the game against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, as he was asked about Dirk Nowitzki taking a significant cut in order to help the Mavs bring in talent around him to compete for a championship.
The 36-year-old agreed that it was a popular thing to do, but he believes that it is a big coup for the owners to put players in situations in which there is a “public perception that puts pressure on them to take less money”.
Bryant signed a new two-year deal worth $48.5m last season while he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, and although the deal is less than what he was eligible to make on a maximum contract, many believe that it was still too much as he was made the highest-paid player in the league.
Meanwhile, Nowtizki re-signed with the Mavs this summer for $25m over three years, taking far less than the market value to leave Dallas owner Mark Cuban with significant salary-cap space to make upgrades to the roster.
That looks to be paying off so far this season as the Mavericks look like a contender with the likes of Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler now working around Nowitzki, while the Lakers continue to toil at the bottom of the Western Conference.
“This is a business, and you have to look at individuals and what they generate and the market that they’re generating revenue in. And you can’t separate those. People have a hard time separating that stuff. From a business perspective, you have to take that stuff into account and you have to try to, as a player, be in situations where it can be a win-win for everybody,” Bryant said.
“So did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah. So what we try to do is be in a situation where they take care of the player and the player takes care of the organization enough to put us in a championship predicament eventually.”
Bryant has made almost $280m in career earnings entering this season and he has won five championships after spending his entire career thus far with the Lakers.
However, LA are off to a 3-10 start to the season and despite having enough cap space to talk to Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony this past summer, they were unable to convince either player to join them.