The Lakers aren’t Riggin’ for Wiggins – signing veteran center Chris Kaman proves that – but they’re hedging their bets.
With Dwight Howard in Houston, Kobe Bryant injured, Pau Gasol old and Steve Nash older, the shine has worn off Lakers’ once-promising starting lineup. So, no sense keeping the weak link of that unit just to keep up appearances.
The Lakers will amnesty Metta World Peace, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.
The NBA hasn’t yet officially set its luxury-tax line, and it’s not yet determined what other moves the Lakers will make, so it’s impossible to give an exact amount they’ll save by amnestying World Peace. Some estimates peg the Lakers’ savings as high as $30 million, but I believe the true number will be much lower.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for a progressive tax rate, so if the Lakers had re-signed Howard, World Peace’s salary would have been taxed at a much higher rate. Without Howard, the Lakers will likely fall not far above the tax line, and amnestying World Peace might even get them below it.
For estimating purposes, let’s say the Lakers’ payroll is equal to the luxury-tax line without World Peace’s $7,727,280 contract. That would mean his entire salary, and only his salary, would be taxed. The first $5 million would be taxed at $1.50 per dollar – totaling $7..5 million. The other $2,727,280 would be taxed at $1.75 per dollar – totaling
In sum, by removing World Peace’s contract from their books, the Lakers would reduce their tax burden by $12,272,740 next season.
It’s more likely the actual number emerges as slightly higher than $12.3 million than slightly below $12.3 million, but that’s a decent estimate.
However, this discussion all amounts to more money for the Buss Family, even though they’ll have still to pay World Peace/
By amnestying World Peace, barring several other moves, the Lakers aren’t generating any cap room. At best, the most likely gain would be the ability to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,150,000) rather than the taxpayer mid-level exception ($3,183,000).
But spending those extra couple million dollars might push the Lakers back over the luxury-tax line, which might not be so costly this season, but could be in future years. The Lakers should try avoiding the luxury tax this season, when their outlook is bleaker, so they delay triggering repeater penalties when they eventually assemble a better (read: more expensive) roster.
On the court, which is much less important here, the Lakers won’t really miss World Peace if they end up playing for lottery odds rather than a playoff berth – and they might not miss him much, anyway, if they’re trying to win as many games as possible, because he’s no longer a reliable starter. But with Earl Clark headed to Cleveland, the Lakers will need to add another small forward.
As for World Peace, he’ll go on the amnesty waiver wire. At 33, he’s clearly declining, and he might not fit in every locker room. But any contender with strong veteran leadership and cap room should at least enter a minimum-salary bid for him. At that price, he can’t really hurt.