“We’ll try to hit a home run,” Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchack said a few weeks ago on the Lakers’ offseason plans.
Well the addition of Steve Nash was a bomb worthy of the Home Run Derby. Nash instantly turns the Lakers into serious title contenders.
By acquiring Nash the Lakers fixed one major problem but made another one much worse.
The Lakers were already reaching deep in their pockets with Kobe Bryant’s, Pau Gasol’s, and Andrew Bynum’s high salaries already on the books. Taking on Nash and his three-year, $25 million plus contract only makes things worse, financially.
Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, an NBA team had to pay an additional dollar for every dollar it went over the luxury tax threshold.
But under the new CBA, the consequences for going over the threshold become much harsher. Take a look at it here:
- If a team is $0 to $5M over the tax, they pay $1.50 per dollar (so if you’re $3M over, you pay $4.5M in taxes).
- If a team is $5M to $10M over the tax, they pay $1.75 per dollar
- If a team is $10M to $15M over the tax, they pay $2.50 per dollar
- If a team is $15M to $20M over a tax, they pay $3.25 per dollar
- If a team is $20M over, they pay $3.75 per dollar, with the penalty increasing by .50 for every additional $5M it goes over
The system was made to prevent big market teams like the Lakers, Knicks and Mavs from becoming the ‘Yankees’ of the NBA.
The Lakers would have payed over $50 million in luxury taxes last season under this new system. Next season with Nash, this number would blossom much higher. Along with that, the Lakers still have to pay the players their actual salaries. Even the real Yankees would have a tough time swallowing that bill.
Financially the Lakers can’t keep everyone. Though the new CBA’s luxury taxes don’t kick in until the 2013 – 2014 season, expect the Lakers to cut salary soon, just as they did with Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher last season.
Mitch Kupchuck will now have the task of deciding where to cut salary. Who stays? Who goes? Who comes?
The Lakers still have yet to use their one-time amnesty clause and Metta World Peace would be a prime candidate for that. But who better to guard Durant and Lebron than World Peace with his size and strength?
Trade Gasol? Gasol’s value to the Lakers just went through the roof. Nash will create off pick-and-rolls and find Gasol all day on cuts and open mid-range jump shots, which he knocks down routinely. Don’t be surprised to see Gasol rebound from a less-than-stellar season and return to the All-Star game, if he’s still in purple and gold next season.
What about Bynum? Bynum will only become better with Nash. The Lakers’ issues of not being able to get the ball into Bynum on the low block disappear with Nash at the helm.
But the real question for Lakers management is, ‘Is Bynum the next superstar to lead this team’?
If it’s a yes, then Gasol has to go. If it’s a no, then it’s time to go after Howard. The chances that Howard leaves as a free agent after next season are real. Still the Lakers would have a superstar point guard, they are an annual title contender, would be able to offer him the most years and money (like in the D-Will Nets situation), and it’s LA where he’ll get all the attention he craves; Hey Dwight, are you sure you want to leave?
But with the addition of Nash and the Lakers’ dire financial issues, is the Dwight Howard deal even possible?
It was a real possibility before, but less likely now. Orlando remains stubborn in wanting the Lakers to take back either Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson along with Dwight Howard.
Asking the Lakers to take on additional money? Somewhere Jerry Buss just ‘LOL’, literally. Turkoglu has 2 years, $23.8 million left and Richardson has 3 years, $18.6 million. The Lakers would have to send back at least Metta World Peace, if not more, to match salaries.
The Magic are going to have to lower their demands for the Lakers to move in. They just might though because the Lakers’ offer appears to be the best on the table.
Tough, franchise-altering decisions lay ahead for the Lakers.
Hey Mitch, how about one more home run? Don’t hit too many though, you’ll make the Dodgers jealous.