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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Updated: July 10, 12:52 PM ET
Lakers to pay hefty luxury tax

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Six NBA teams have been billed for luxury-tax payments they owe for last season's payrolls, according to official league figures obtained by ESPN.com on Tuesday night.

And the heftiest, not surprisingly, belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers will be forced to pay more than $29 million in luxury tax for a team that -- thanks to a steady stream of injuries and L.A.'s well-chronicled chemistry problems -- barely squeaked into the playoffs and will go down as one of the biggest underachievers in league history.

The figures, distributed late Tuesday to the league's 30 teams, reveal the Miami Heat ($13.35 million), Brooklyn Nets ($12.88 million), New York Knicks ($9.96 million), Chicago Bulls ($3.93 million) and Boston Celtics ($1.18 million) join the Lakers ($29.26 million) in facing tax bills for their 2012-13 payrolls.

The NBA also announced its salary cap and luxury-tax threshold for 2013-14, when penalties for breaching it will be much steeper. Next season ushers in a more punitive scale for roster excess than seen during the first two seasons of the NBA's labor agreement introduced in December 2011.

The Nets, for example, are projected at this early juncture to have a tax bill in the $75 million range despite carrying a similar payroll of roughly $100 million to the Lakers of 2012-13.

The tax amounts for last season were based on a dollar-for-dollar tax above the per-team threshold of $70.31 million.

Fifty percent of the total tax of $70.57 million paid by the six teams will be used to fund revenue sharing for the 2012-13 season, according to the 2011 labor agreement. The remaining 50 percent will be distributed in equal shares to each non-taxpaying team.

Sources told ESPN.com that each non-taxpaying team will thus receive 1/24th of $35.28 million, or $1.47 million per team.

The six taxpaying teams, sources said, will receive an invoice by Monday and must remit their required payment by July 24. Escrow and tax distributions are scheduled to be made back to teams no later than July 29.

Larry Bird, the president of one of the non-taxpaying teams, linked his Pacers' tax status to the constraints that fall on small-market teams, saying Indiana simply can't ignore the ramifications of going over the limit.

"We can't afford it," Bird said while attending the Orlando Pro Summer League in Florida earlier this week, according to The Oklahoman. "It's like buying a used car and a new car. If you got the money to buy a used one, you better get the used one."

Bird said the Pacers will not go into the tax "for any reason."

"Our owners went out and have done everything they could this year so we could be up close to the tax," Bird said, according to the Oklahoma City newspaper. "We just can't fight the tax. It's always going to be a disadvantage for us. I feel bad for Oklahoma. They had a great team and they had to make a trade. They were right there. But we're going to have to do the same in the future. We're always fighting an uphill battle with revenues. But that's part of who we are. And we do the best we can with what we have."