Los Angeles Lakers: Salary Cap
- (3:01): After paying tribute to our wives' mutual love of "The Golden Girls" (those sassy blue hairs lived in Miami, after all), we talk about break down the implications with Sunday's game against the Heat. For starters, Broken-Nose-And-Concussion-Gate. Wade has insisted his foul on Kobe Bryant during the All-Star Game wasn't delivered with an intent to injure. Kobe himself has insisted it wasn't delivered with an intent to injure. But Laker fans certainly don't believe Flash and more importantly, Matt Barnes views the incident as another example of why he and Metta World Peace may have to adopt the role of enforcer and enforcer sidekick. (MWP would be the head honcho, which I only imagine is a source of comfort for everyone involved.)
Will the incident in Orlando lead to excessive chippiness in L.A. come Sunday? And if so, does that play into the Lakers' favor?
- (10:45): How are the Lakers gonna put up points against the Heat? Last season, the Lakers couldn't score against them while Miami was still in the "getting to know each other" stages. This season, the Lakers are the ones lacking continuity, and the Heat have only gotten better defensively.
- (12:00): How would a win on Sunday affect our perception of the Lakers? At the very least, I could maintain a more open mind towards the potential for this team moving forward. Wholeheartedly buying in, no questions asked, as the result of one victory feels like a premature reaction, but there's no question this would represent a very strong win. A loss, however, would mark the fourth in as many tries in Miami's James-Wade-Bosh era, and naturally prompts skepticism about how much they're really improving against legitimate competition.
- (17:30): More important than how Brian or I will react to the results against the Heat, how will the front office?
- (19:40): How much will money be a factor for the Lakers moving forward? And even if they are willing to pony up whatever it takes to secure a young superstar, the opportunities may be few and far between? We go through the list of the league elites under 30, and the overwhelming majority are locked up.
Writes Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen:
"...Let's say there will be a hard cap on salaries after this season. That means the league is probably going to have to break up the flagship rosters of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. Fans are not going to be happy about this painful transition to a hard-cap system, but is there any other way? Let's say a lockout kills off part of next season, resulting in a moratorium to provide franchises with time to dump salaries and make moves to get under the cap for 2012-13. That extra year isn't going to help the Lakers -- in 2012-13 they are committed to pay a preposterous $92 million in player salaries, which puts them $36 million above the current soft-cap threshold. How could they fit themselves under the hard-ceiling cap and still hold on to Kobe Bryant (who is owed $28 million in 2012-13), Pau Gasol ($19 million), Andrew Bynum ($16 million on a team option) and Lamar Odom ($8 million on a partial guarantee)?..."
Yeah, that ain't good. Obviously this is extremely hypothetical at this point, but lest you think NBA Labor Negotiations and You! is a show not worth watching, think again.
For teams chasing big free agents, it means a little more space and flexibility. For the Lakers, an extra couple mil doesn't do much good, since they nearly get to $58 million on the salaries of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum alone. The more relevant numbers in El Segundo were the exact value of the mid-level exception and the luxury tax threshold.
The Lakers have promised $4 million of their MLE to point guard Steve Blake, but at a full value of $5.765 million, they'll have $1.765 million left to apply to another player, should they so choose. As for the luxury tax, the line will be $70,307,000, about $400K more than last season, but hardly enough to provide substantive relief to Dr. Buss' wallet. Even before adding Blake's deal and an expected contract for Derek Fisher, the Lakers already have nearly $82 million in salary obligations to the seven players currently under contract (Bryant, Gasol, Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Sasha Vujacic, and Luke Walton). The Lakers were assessed, by almost $4 million, the largest tax penalty of any team last season (over $21.4 million) and will again have to bust out the checkbook for next year's squad.
All told, it paints a picture of why the Lakers seem cautious when it comes to adding more to the payroll. Their tax burden won't keep them from re-signing Fisher, and I don't think it's impossible for Shannon Brown to return as well, if the market for his services isn't quite as large as Brown hopes, keeping the price tag down. Nor do I think the Lakers would pass on a player genuinely felt to be an important part of a run for another title. They showed with Blake a willingness to spend most of their MLE, something some (not me) didn't think they'd do. But the numbers don't bode well for a guy like Josh Powell, who made about a million last year and could be replaced by a smaller money guy like second round pick Derrick Caracter (or a different minimum/near-minimum money player).
Anyone playing on L.A.'s summer team, though, should be emboldened. Same for guys who eventually are invited to camp. A combination of a good showing and low sticker price could be enough to earn a roster spot, something totally unavailable last season.