Despite what some Lakers fans think ownership does not have an unlimited pocketbook. Even with their new cable deal. The Buss family has always run the Lakers like a business, just one that plays with more revenue than other teams. Yes, they spent a lot to win but they also turned a profit every season — the Lakers are the sole business of the Buss family now. This is their livelihood.
Which brings us to the Lakers payroll, which is at $100 million for this season, which under the current system means another $30 million in luxury tax is added to that bill. And that bill makes Lakers ownership uncomfortable.
Without major roster changes the Lakers are on target for about $100 million in payroll next season as well — but under the new punitive luxury tax negotiated in the new CBA the Lakers tax bill would jump to $85 million total. That would be $185 million in payroll, plus they will have new revenue sharing bill that could be up to $50 million.
The Lakers are looking to shave that bill this summer.
They are not going to amnesty Kobe Bryant. That got brought up by some Lakers fans and pundits, but that is not how the Lakers relationship with Kobe works. He is too central to their marketing and identity right now. He is the Lakers.
Pau Gasol on the other hand… the Lakers probably wouldn’t amnesty him either. But they have to consider it writes Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times.
Waiving Gasol via the “amnesty” provision in July could potentially save them more than $60 million in luxury taxes. They would still have to pay his $19.3-million salary, though he could be snapped up by a bidding team that would owe the Lakers millions to help with that cost.
The Lakers also could try to trade Gasol, but his hefty salary next season could be difficult to move and they would likely have to take back salaries totaling at least $15 million, which wouldn’t really help a goal to avoid ridiculous luxury taxes.
I still think the Lakers will try to trade Gasol in an effort to get more athletic and younger, to get players that can better fit Mike D’Antoni’s preferred system. However, the hard part is the Lakers have a lot of cap space in 2014 (even if the re-sign Dwight Howard to a max deal) and it would be very hard to trade Gasol and not take back salary that impinges on that cap space.
The Lakers are likely to amnesty somebody. My guess is Metta World Peace and they try to replace his production with what they get back in a Gasol trade.
I think for one season the Lakers will bite the bullet on a big tax bill in an effort to win one more ring in the Kobe era. Then in the summer of 2014 things change dramatically.
But a Gasol amnesty is not out of the question and you know the Lakers have discussed it.