The logistics behind pay cuts

Kobe Bryant's league-high contract looks like a bargain when compared to the Lakers' profits. Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

From speculation about members of the Miami Heat's Big Three taking less money to add free agents, to Phil Jackson encouraging Carmelo Anthony to take less than the maximum salary on a new contract with the New York Knicks, to U.S. soccer men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann weighing in on the size of Kobe Bryant's contract extension, pay cuts have become an important topic in free agency.

To understand why star players might want or even feel obligated to take less money than they could get requires understanding the NBA's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its players, which sets out rules regarding the salary cap, luxury tax and how teams go about building their rosters.

Let's break it down, FAQ-style.

Q: In a league in which some owners are making enormous profits, why should stars be taking pay cuts?

That's the question Bryant essentially posed on Twitter after signing his two-year extension, which keeps him as the league's highest-paid player. Philosophically, Bryant isn't wrong. Grantland's Zach Lowe reported last week that the Los Angeles Lakers made a league-high $100 million in profit from basketball operations in 2013-14, making Bryant's contract look like a bargain. But in practice, his salary has little impact on the Lakers' overall payroll this season.