With Dwight Howard gone, Lakers will no longer consider using the amnesty provision on Pau Gasol

35 Comments

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.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

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.

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

image

So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

Leave a comment

I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

Getty Images
2 Comments

For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.