Source: Lakers decline Wolves' offer

Updated: March 1, 2012, 4:14 PM ET
By Chris Broussard | ESPN The Magazine

The Minnesota Timberwolves offered to trade Michael Beasley to the Los Angeles Lakers for a first-round draft pick, but the Lakers turned them down, according to a league source.

While Beasley, a talented and athletic small forward, would fill one of the Lakers' greatest needs, the Lakers rejected the offer because they do not want to add to their luxury tax bill, according to the source.

Beasley
Beasley

With one of the league's highest payrolls at roughly $88 million -- well above the luxury tax threshold of $70 million -- the Lakers are due to pay $18 million in taxes this season. Since there is a dollar-for-dollar penalty for tax-paying teams, taking on Beasley's $6.2 million deal would add another $6.2 million to their tax bill and cost the Lakers a pro-rated shortened-season total of $7.331 million.

The Lakers' decision falls in line with their decision to trade Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for an $8.9 million trade exception in December. While Odom asked to be traded after finding out the Lakers put him in a foiled trade attempt to get Chris Paul, the Lakers' chief motivation for trading Odom was to chop their payroll and to save money.

Under the new revenue sharing plan in the recently adopted collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers will pay a bundle and because of that, owner Jerry Buss is no longer willing to spend so freely in going above the luxury tax, according to sources.

Under the Timberwolves' proposal, the Lakers would have absorbed Beasley's contract into the trade exception they received from Dallas. In return, Minnesota asked for the Lakers' best first-round pick in the upcoming draft. In addition to their own pick, the Lakers own Dallas' first-round pick, as long as it is not within the first 20 selections.

Rather than use their trade exception on Beasley, the Lakers are asking Minnesota to take back a player making comparable money, sources say. That would enable the Lakers to acquire Beasley at no extra cost.

The obvious match is Luke Walton, who makes $5.7 million. But Walton has another year left on his deal at $6.1 million, and the Timberwolves, who would prefer an expiring contract, are hesitant. But the sides are still talking.

Four other clubs are interested in Beasley, including Boston.

Beasley, the second pick in the 2008 draft, is averaging 12.8 points in less than 26 minutes a game for Minnesota. He averaged 19.2 points last season and has a career average of 15.6 points.

Minnesota is willing to unload him, however, because of immaturity issues that have dogged him throughout his career, as well as their logjam at the forward position.

The Lakers have been interested in Beasley since December. Sources say if their trade for Paul had gone through, they would have subsequently made a trade for Beasley.

Minnesota, fresh off a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in which Beasley scored 27 points in 30 minutes, visits the Lakers tonight.

Senior writer Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.