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What Carmelo Anthony signing with the Lakers would mean for Karl Malone, Brian Shaw and John Salley

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With Chris Kaman headed to the Trail Blazers and Jodie Meeks to the Pistons, I projected the Lakers to be $23,998,667 over the salary cap.

So, how is Los Angeles in the race for Carmelo Anthony?

Free agents continue to count against the salary cap until they sign – either with their current team or elsewhere – or until they’re renounced. Beyond their four players under contract (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall) and first-round pick (Julius Randle), the Lakers have 21 free agents counting against the cap.*

*Technically 23 including Kaman and Meeks, but those two are good as gone.

Among those 21, according to ShamSports.com, are:

  • Andrew Goudelock (last played in 2013)
  • Theo Ratliff (2011)
  • Joe Smith (2011)
  • Ira Newble (2008)
  • Shammond Williams (2007)
  • Jim Jackson (2006)
  • Karl Malone (2004)
  • Horace Grant (2004)
  • Brian Shaw (2003)
  • Mitch Richmond (2002)
  • Ron Harper (2001)
  • John Salley (2000)

That list includes two Hall of Famers (Malone and the elected-but-not-yet-inducted Richmond), a TV personality (Salley) and the head coach of the Denver Nuggets (Shaw).

In total, those 12 count nearly $15 million against the cap – though when the time comes, the Lakers will simply renounce them. It’s a effortless step.

So, why bother to keep them listed in the first place?

Simply, there is no reason for the Lakers to renounce those players until there’s a reason to renounce them. They don’t actually get paid. They don’t count toward the luxury tax.

They just count against the cap, and it’s been many years since the Lakers tried to dip below the cap. If the Lakers want cap room this season, those 12 will be the first to get renounced.

So, again, what’s the point keeping them on the books?

In the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, those players could be signed-and-traded. The Lakers could exceed the cap to re-sign those players using Bird rights, early Bird rights or non-Bird rights and include them in sign-and-trades in order to make salaries match.

Famously, Keith Van Horn participated in such an arrangement, going from the Mavericks to the Nets in the Jason Kidd trade two years after his retirement. In it for Van Horn? The $4.3 million necessary to make the trade work.

However, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement requires a player finished the preceding season with a team to be sign-and-traded. So, keeping these retired players no longer serves the scheme’s once-primary purpose

Once more, why do it? Still, the answer is, why not?

Maybe Harper will train really hard and make a miraculous comeback that has teams bidding over his services. In that case, the Lakers would have the inside track at re-signing him. There’s no reason to throw away that possibility, no matter how remote.

The Lakers are not alone with such strange cap holds.

The Celtics still have cap holds for Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Long and Michael Finley. The Knicks have Baron Davis and Mike Bibby. The Grizzlies have Gilbert Arenas. There are others around the league.

But this quirk won’t last much longer.

The new CBA makes these holds a relic. Beyond the inability to sign-and-trade these players, the current climate encourages teams to dip below the cap more frequently. I can’t imagine any team going more than a dozen years without cap room anytime soon.

Enjoy John Salley’s last days with the Lakers – 14 years after his retirement – while you can.

Report: Magic makes first trade, Lakers send Lou Williams to Rockets for first-round pick, Corey Brewer

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Magic Johnson has pulled the trigger on his first trade — and it’s a solid one for the team that will give them another first-round pick.

It may be a better one for a Rockets’ team looking to make a deep playoff run.

The Lakers are sending Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets and getting back what they really want in a pick, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Lou Williams seemed to confirm this on Twitter.

We don’t know what year that first-round pick is, most likely 2017 but we don’t know for sure yet.

Williams became a sought-after trade commodity because the guy who used to be a volume scorer still gets plenty of points but now does it efficiently. He leads the Lakers scoring 18.6 points per game, with a very good true-shooting percentage of 60.9, in part because he gets to the line a lot more. He’s doing all that in just 24.2 minutes a night off the bench, which is why he’s a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

For the Rockets, they now bring the scoring punch of Williams and Eric Gordon — probably the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year — off the bench. That will relieve some scoring pressure, and maybe reduce the minutes load, for James Harden.

Williams should blend almost seamlessly into the Mike D’Antoni offense. The only concern for the Rockets is potential playoff matchups where Williams can be exploited defensively, but that team is going to play fast and put up points.

For the Lakers, they get a first-round pick, although if it is a 2017 it will be about pick 27. Corey Brewer makes the salaries match up but he is a below replacement-level player at this point, don’t be shocked if the Lakers try to move him next summer. My only question with the Lakers is could they have gotten a higher first rounder from another team, but this seems a fair deal for Sweet Lou.

PBT Extra: Will Magic run Lakers like his businesses or his Twitter account?

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The Lakers needed a front office change, and they got it — two days before the trade deadline. Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are out, Magic Johnson is in.

It’s a good first step, but here is the question I ask in this latest PBT Extra: What kind of leader will Magic Johnson be?

Will he be like he ran his business empire, hiring smart people and getting everyone to collaborate into a greater whole?

Or, will he run the Lakers like his Twitter account?

Magic has said all the right things about it being the former, but soon will come time for action.

Reports: Agent Rob Pelinka set to become Lakers new general manager, finalizing deal

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Golden State broke the mold and hired an agent as a general manager in Bob Myers a few years back. Safe to say that has worked out fairly well for them.

Now the Lakers will try to replicate that experiment — they are on the verge of hiring Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as their new general manager, according to both media reports and the players he has under contract. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports was first with the news.

Backing up those reports, several of Pelinka’s players have come right out and said the agent is taking the job. Via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets guard Eric Gordon said his agent, Rob Pelinka, will become the GM of the Lakers. “I think he’s going to be good,” Gordon said. “He had a good reputation as an agent and definitely expect nothing but good things from him. “It’s a different challenge, and I think he’ll be just fine.” Pelinka not only represents Gordon but Trevor Ariza and James Harden.

Pelinka will serve as the right-hand man for Magic Johnson, and will handle the day-to-day operations of the basketball side of the organization. On his first day, Johnson talked about working closely with coach Luke Walton, Ryan West (an assistant GM and son of Jerry), Jessie and Joey Boss (two of the Buss children also working in the front office, and well respected). Pelinka would be part of that collaborative effort — which is how most successful front offices work. While one person with the hammer has to make the final call, the best organizations have teams of guys who provide views from scouts, analytic departments, coaching staffs, capologists, and more (including ownership on the biggest deals). The idea is to synthesize all that information into an informed decision.

Pelinka would bring to the table things Jim Buss and Kupchak did not — he is personable and good in the room with players. Kupchak and Buss were disasters in free agent meetings with stars in recent years, but if you don’t know how to recruit as an agent, you starve. Pelinka also ran a team with his agency of competing personalities, he knows the CBA well, player contracts well, and he has good contacts all over the league.

Plus, Kobe wanted it.

Jeanie Buss says decision to fire brother Jim was so hard “I probably waited too long”

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The question has been for weeks not if but when. Ever since Magic Johnson was brought on as a “consultant to ownership” for Jeanie Buss and the Lakers the writing was on the wall, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were going to be out. Magic’s heavy-handed public campaign to take over Jim’s spot added to the obviousness of the situation.

Nobody expected to be this fast — and certainly not two days before the trade deadline.

Why now? Lakers owner and team governor Jeanie Buss and Magic — the new head of Lakers’ basketball operations — were on the Lakers’ cable network Spectrum Sportsnet in Los Angeles and answered those questions.

“It’s something I thought about for a long time, and once the decision became clear in my mind there was really no reason to wait, Buss said…

“In today’s NBA there is no offseason, you’re constantly preparing for the draft, for the season, for Summer League, so there was no time like the present.”

This was very different from most teams firing a GM and basketball president — Jim Buss is Jeanie’s brother (and will remain part owner), Mitch Kupchak has been a loyal Laker front office soldier for decades. For Jeanie Buss, this was emotional and was not just business.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Buss said. “It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. And for that, I apologize to Lakers fans. But now with clarity and direction, and talking to with Ervin, really knowing a change was needed, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Why did she wait so long, through what she called an “erosion” of what the Lakers should be?

“I wanted for the current (she meant former) front office to show us what Laker basketball was going to be. It just wasn’t going in a direction that was satisfactory for what this organization stands for,” Buss said.

Magic added perspective.

“It really wasn’t about the last couple weeks, it’s been about years,” Magic said.

However, Johnson did say in a later Los Angeles radio interview that he was kept out of the loop on the Lakers’ pursuit of DeMarcus Cousins All-Star weekend. He would not say if that impacted the timing, and he dodged the question about whether he would have included Brandon Ingram in the trade.

Johnson said he has talked to numerous other general managers already, both getting well wishes and talking trades — Los Angeles remains expected to move Lou Williams before the trade deadline, according to sources around the league.

“After we leave (the studio where this interview was taking place) we’re going to go back to the war room with coach Walton, Ryan West (an assistant GM), Jessie and Joey (Buss children working in the front office), we’re all going to sit in a room and evaluate trade possibilities,” Magic said.

Johnson continually praised both Luke Walton and the young core of the team — all of which were put in place by the former front office. He said he wanted to build with this core.

“We have the right coach with Luke Walton and a lot of great young players, that we can build and make sure we develop, and help them turn into the stars we think they can become,” Magic said.

“This isn’t about going back to Showtime, we’re not turning back the clock,” Buss said. “The Lakers have figured out how to win in every era, and certainly the game has evolved, and the rules have changed. We, in our discussions, were looking at evolving with the game and what the modern NBA is about.”

Magic said he wants a GM who can work with him and who also knows the CBA and has relationships with teams, “someone smarter than me.” He also talked about everyone in the organization working together in the front office, in a collaborative way.

“That’s how I built my (business) organization, that’s how I want to build this one,” Johnson said.

As expected, both Johnson and Buss said this was about winning and getting the organization going back in the right direction.

“When we sat down for dinner, and she asked me to come back, I think the timing was right,” Johnson said. “It was right for me to put my businesses aside and focus on Laker business, try to build an organization fans can be proud of, both on the court and in the offices.”