An interesting debate which applies to just about any sport in this day and age of money fueling success.
Coming to the fore in basketball recently, we’ve seen two different mindsets. The Los Angeles Lakers offered Kobe Bryant a $46 million 2 year deal at the age of 35, as he hobbled into two injury plagued years. Not only did he struggle to get on the court, but with the cap space taken up by the deal, the Lakers struggled to be a feasible option to attract free-agents.
Conversely, in San Antonio, arguably the most consistent team in the NBA’s recent history, they have made an effort to balance age and output with youth and promise. The big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli have over the years taken pay cuts to help them team. Doing so has helped them retain the likes of Kahwai Leonard and Danny Green whilst also being able to attract the biggest name in last year’s free agency, LaMarcus Aldridge.
The difference in these two cases is evident, in LA, there was a lack of effort made to put the future before the present, where as in San Antonio has always been looking forward. Now don’t get it twisted, I respect the hell out of Kobe, but there has to be some onus on his part to be willing to do what the San Antonio organisation has consistently done.
There of course is the option to utilize the veteran’s minimum contract option for organisations to use on players with over 10 years experience amounting to $1,448,490. Which is a drop in the ocean compared to Kobe’s final contract which brought him into his 19th season.
Now I’m not saying that all veterans should be taking mammoth pay cuts down to the Vet minimum, they should get paid what their worth, but the future does need to be considered. Your not going to be there forever, so, why not try and do everything in your power to leave the organisation in a better place then what it was when you left. Did Kobe really need that last $48 million? Could he have taken less to make the Lakers a viable Western Conference contender, or at the very least free-agent option?
What do you think? Should older players be forced, at the very least be more willing to take pay cuts?