Four reasons: money, returning home as a franchise savior, setting himself up for life after basketball and a possible majority ownership stake in the franchise … and … money.
If the 76ers allow Evan Turner and Royce White to sign elsewhere next summer and buy-out the contract of Jason Richardson, spreading the $6.6 million he is owed over three years as is allowed, even with a #1 picks salary (Note: The 76’ers look like one of the worst teams in the league at this time and may indeed get the #1 pick in the draft and the opportunity to draft Andrew Wiggins) added to the rather expensive salary of Thad Young along with the second year salaries of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and the third year salary of Arnett Moultrie, the 76ers could have right around $43 million in cap space next summer.
Kobe Bryant just recently said that he will indeed play at least three more seasons; however, I have stated for over a year now that I believe Kobe will play through the 2016-17 season and therefore a total of at least four more seasons. The reason I believe such is that by the end of the 2015-16 season, three years from now, Kobe will most likely be sitting at second on the NBA’s All-Time leading scorer’s list and will realize that by playing just one more season he would easily surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and become the greatest scorer in NBA history. I simply cannot see him walking away with such a lofty goal easily within reach. Kobe Bryant is not Barry Sanders, period.
The above said, I believe Kobe will be looking for a three-year contract next summer and whereas the Lakers may be offering him a three-year deal paying a total of around $30-40 million if they have signed another superstar or two, or perhaps as much as $60-65 million if they were unable to sign another player of significance, and the Bulls could offer him perhaps around a total of $45-49 million, the Philadelphia 76ers would literally be able to offer Kobe Bryant a three-year, $100,000,000 contract with the option of owning a percentage (and possibly a majority share) of the franchise upon retirement!
With the only players under contract in 2014-15 after letting Evan Turner and Royce White walk and buying out Jason Richardson being Thad Young, Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, Arnett Moultrie and their first round draft pick next year (Andrew Wiggins?), along with the aforementioned $42 million or so in cap space, the 76ers could offer Kobe a three-year deal with eight percent annual raises starting at $30.81 million which would pay approx. $33.275 million in the second season and $35.937 in the third and final season, for a total payout of $100,021,584!
On top of the massive financial windfall Kobe would receive in the above proposed deal, the 76ers would also still have around $7 million to spend in free agency, even after five cap holds are figured in, which could allow them to offer someone like Pau Gasol a full four-year guaranteed contract worth around $29.4 million and add various solid players like Kirk Hinrich, Brandon Rush, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler and Ryan Hollins to veteran minimum contracts. If such were done, the 76ers roster could look as follows:
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 2014-15 LINEUP
PG: Michael Carter-Williams / Kirk Hinrich
SG: Kobe Bryant / Brandon Rush / Ben Gordon
SF: Andrew Wiggins / Caron Butler
PF: Thad Young / Arnett Moultrie
C: Nerlens Noel / Pau Gasol/ Ryan Hollins
WHY NOT the PHILADELPHIA 76ERS:
While I do believe the above roster could contend for a title before Kobe’s final contract runs out, he may want the opportunity to compete for a title immediately, which would be the only real reason Kobe would turn down a three-year $100+ million contract from Philly that comes with the option of being the franchise savior in the town you played high school ball in, and an ownership stake in the franchise upon retirement.
If Kobe chose Philadelphia’s amazing offer, could anyone blame him? Would anyone blame him, or would the blame fall squarely on Jim Buss’ shoulders?
Want to submit your own Sound Off and possibly be published on Lakers Nation? Click here!