Report: Lakers will amnesty Metta World Peace

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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 $4,772,740.

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.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.