Kobe gets paid too much so he is hurting the team. The player is too old and now hurts the team with his diminished play and restricts money used for other players. These are legitimate complaints but why should a player than has been great for the NBA, great for a team be put through this? The NBA does not care about its loyal great players. The question is a team wants to reward a player for a great career but the NBA Salary cap rules turn him into a pariah.
Years of dedication to a team or the game does not matter so discard him. His diminished ability dismisses his value to a team should drop him. League parity is supposed to be very important so a team that wants to reward a loyal player for years of service cannot because it hurts the teams competitiveness. A loyal older player must be cut because a team cannot afford to keep him in a capacity to demonstrate to younger players how to play, be a professional, teach them allegiance to the team or to transition him to other parts of the organization. What could be done to remedy this situation?
I call it the Loyalty Rule. The full salary of a loyal player counts against the salary cap which hurts a team’s competitive parity. In any other business years of loyalty gets rewarded, not in the NBA.
I propose that the NBA for all players that become 32.5 years of age become designated as loyal players and that their salary counts at 75% against the salary cap on that exact date. Players that become 35 years of age their salary counts at 50% against the salary cap. Players that become 37.5 years of age their salary counts at 25% against the salary cap. Finally, players that become 40 years of age have no effect on the salary cap. It would let the team reward loyalty. It would add to league parity. It would avoid teams being heartless forcing them to cut loyal players. It would not put loyal players in a position to take a salary cut or be designated as selfish. It would show the NBA cares about its loyal players. It rewards the NBA greats as it should, without shame or criticism.
Teams like the Boston Celtics could have kept Paul Pierce, or the Bulls Michael Jordan as their careers wound down. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs could reward them for loyalty, NOT ask them to take a pay cut which is theft for a player like Tim Duncan.
This or some variation would be great for the NBA.