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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

I understand what Mitch Kupchak is saying completely, but he didn’t have to say it like that.

Kobe Bryant is making north of $24 million this season after signing a two-year, $48.5-million extension back in 2013. That’s the equivalent of three really solid players on the roster.

The remaining 47 games will be all about Bryant and his league-wide tour, so that means the Mamba jacking up shots, playing big minutes and simply doing what he’s earned the right to do.

Such an ending for the legend will likely stunt the growth of rookie D’Angelo Russell and 2014 first-rounder Julius Randle. Kupchak is okay with that, but concedes that the Lakers can’t fully start the rebuild until Bryant leaves.

“We cannot move on as a team until Kobe leaves,” Kupchak said Sunday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Pincus. “Part of that to me is painful because I’ve been here 20 years with Kobe.

“This is a year that’s dedicated to Kobe and his farewell. From my point of view, it gives me complete clarity. … We know what our (salary) cap situation is going to be like.”

I was joking about what I said in the beginning, with major kudos going out to Kupchak and the Buss family for not relegating Bryant to some 14-minute-a-night guy off the bench.

With a little over $23 million in salary available next season, the real rebuild can begin.

-- Glenn Erby

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