If Dwight Howard had chosen to stay on with the Lakers for the next five years, the team’s total payroll costs would have been astronomical thanks to the new luxury tax penalties that were penned in the most recent version of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Pau Gasol, a part of two championship teams in Los Angeles not that long ago, would have been a candidate to be jettisoned via the amnesty provision in order to greatly reduce the insanely high payroll the team would be facing next season.
Now that Howard is out of the picture, however, that is no longer the case.
Now that Howard is gone, there will be no talk or discussion about using the amnesty provision on forward Pau Gasol anymore, a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com Friday night.
No firm decision had been made, the source insisted, as the team’s preference was to look for ways to keep Gasol. But now that decision has been taken care of with Howard leaving.
Gasol is slated to earn $19.3 million in the final year of his contract next season, but the tax amount the Lakers would be on the hook for would be far greater than that of just his salary.
Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times explains:
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the tax rate shifts this season from flat to exponential. The Lakers at $104.3 million would be on hook for an astounding $97.9 million in luxury tax for a total of $202.3 million.
At that price, the team would have certainly used their one-time amnesty on Pau Gasol. While the veteran forward/center would still get the final $19.3 million on his contract, the Lakers’ tax would drop all the way down to about $26.1 million.
As much as Gasol has meant to the franchise, he isn’t worth $70 million in penalties for a single season — and arguably, nobody is.
It remains to be seen what the Lakers will do with Gasol the following season, when they’ll have all the cap space in the world to pursue any available player they wish from a free agent list that will include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, among many others.
But at least for next year, it would seem that Gasol will remain with the Lakers — a thought that’s undoubtedly a pleasing one to Kobe Bryant.