Western Notes: Kobe, Thunder, Martin

Kobe Bryant rejects the notion that he should have taken a drastic discount the way Dirk Nowitzki did this summer, as Bryant told reporters, including Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Bryant is making $23.5MM this season, the first of a two-year, $48.5MM extension, while Nowitzki will draw only slightly more than $7.947MM.

“It’s the popular thing to do,” Bryant said of players taking pay cuts. “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. It’s absolutely brilliant, but I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it, either.”

Bryant could be making nearly $32.738MM this season if he took the maximum salary in the extension he signed last year, and he said today that he thinks he gave up enough to help the Lakers become a contender again, MacMahon notes. There’s more on the Black Mamba amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Bryant dropped another hint in his chat with reporters today that he doesn’t plan on playing past the expiration of his contract in 2016, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link).
  • GM Sam Presti exuded confidence a few weeks ago that the Thunder could survive their time without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but people within the Thunder’s basketball operations department “are on edge more than ever before,” The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry writes.
  • The Wolves haven’t decided whether Kevin Martin needs surgery on his broken right wrist, but it’d likely be the fastest way for him to return to the court, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Zgoda speculates that it would take four to six weeks for him to come back if he goes under the knife, but the Tribune scribe points out that Martin missed more than two months after surgery to his left (non-shooting) wrist in 2009.
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