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Amnesty For Kobe? Lakers Face $80M Decision In July

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Kobe Bryant is expected to be out six to nine months after suffering a torn left Achilles' tendon in last Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors.(credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant is expected to be out six to nine months after suffering a torn left Achilles’ tendon in last Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors.(credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Has the face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise played his last game for the purple and gold?

KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports some analysts have doubts about guard Kobe Bryant’s future as a Laker after undergoing surgery for a torn left Achilles’ tendon on Saturday.

Bryant was expected to be out six to nine months after suffering the injury with 3:08 left in last Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

After what doctors described as a “successful” operation, Bryant faces a long road to recovery that left him publicly musing on Facebook whether the five-time NBA champion would even be able to return to the game as the same MVP-level player.

“Now Im (sic) supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!?” Bryant wrote on Facebook. “How in the world am I supposed to do that??”

The Lakers organization may be thinking the same thing.

Under the current NBA bargaining agreement, Bryant’s salary puts the Lakers well above the salary cap and could force the team to pay $80 million in luxury taxes.

Without Bryant, the team would only have to pay the remainder of Bryant’s $30 million contract – a net savings of $50 million.

While Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said publicly the team has not “discussed” such a move, Steven Tyler of HoopsWorld.com said the team should be thinking long-term.

“While you’re saying six to nine months before Kobe can get on a basketball court, how long’s it gonna take him to be Kobe Bryant again, if he can ever be Kobe Bryant again?” Tyler said.

NBA teams are allowed to waive players under current amnesty rules during a one-week window between July 10-16.

Bryant – who will make $30.5 million next season – and three other players are eligible for amnesty: Pau Gasol ($19.3 million), Metta World Peace ($7.7 million) and Steve Blake ($4 million.)

Tyler said while the Lakers may not be signaling any decision now, the time to make one is rapidly approaching.

“You may not have real answers when it’s time to make a decision come the first week of July, so I think that while they’re saying, ‘We’re not thinking about it,’ I think in July they’re going to have to,” Tyler said.

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