While the talk of Los Angeles is how Kobe Bryant will look on the court this season as he rebounds from his Achilles injury, it's possible that the real focus should be on what happens in 2014/15. The Lakers haven't opened contract negotiations with Bryant and will take a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers star will earn an eye-popping $30.45MM in his walk year and many have wondered if he would be willing to take a pay cut beyond this season to help give the club the necessary breathing room to build around him. It's a tricky situation for the Lakers on a number of fronts. While the Lakers undoubtedly have Bryant as their top priority, they have no possible way of gauging his readyness after suffering a devastating Achilles injury late last season. Only time will tell what the future will hold for Bryant and it appears that Mitch Kupchak & Co. will take that cliche to heart.
Bryant could receive a maximum 5% raise over his current salary, bringing him to $32MM for 2014/15. However, that would eat up nearly half of the club's cap space for that season as Bresnahan notes that the early estimates have it at $62.5MM. If he took a major pay cut and asked for, say, $10-$12MM, that could give the Lakers enough breathing room to add two strong free agents in the summer of 2014.