Kobe Bryant’s days as an NBA player might be numbered.
The Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard hinted that he wouldn’t play past his last contract — which expires after next season — when he criticized hometown discounts, saying they were a “big coup” for owners. [tweet https://twitter.com/BaxterHolmes/status/535864407205507072 align=”center”]
“It’s the popular thing to do,” Bryant said, via ESPN.com. “The player takes less, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money. Because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it.”
Kobe received some backlash from Lakers fans last year when he signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension, making him the NBA’s highest paid player as a 36-year-old coming off a major injury.
Bryant also was asked about Dirk Nowitzki, who took a hometown discount by signing a contract for three years and $25 million over the summer to stay in Dallas. Yet Bryant noted that the Mavs are not in the same league financially as the Lakers, who recently signed a $3 billion television deal with Time Warner Cable.
“I think it means he’s not playing in Los Angeles,” Bryant said.
Granted, Nowitzki did ask new teammate Chandler Parsons to pay for his meals since the money allocated to Parsons would have essentially gone to Dirk had he not taken a discount. But free meals from teammates aren’t enough to convince Bryant to take less.
“(Hometown discounts are) absolutely brilliant, but I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players association ain’t going for it, either,” Bryant said.
If Bryant isn’t bluffing, it’s possible that if he can’t fetch another huge contract when he becomes a free agent again, he will retire.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images