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.

Devin Booker says after latest Suns’ win ‘Kobe’s with me every day’

Devin Booker Kobe
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Devin Booker grew up a huge Kobe Bryant fan. When Booker made the league in 2016 he got to play against his idol and threw up 28 points on the night. Kobe was impressed. The two talked after the game and Kobe gave him an autographed pair of shoes with an inspirational message:

“Be Legendary.”

Booker took that to heart. He got the phrase as a tattoo. He’s been writing “Be Legendary” on his Nike’s before every game in the bubble. And after he scored 20 against the Pacers Thursday, helping the Suns remain undefeated for the restart, he said Kobe is still inspiring him every day.

“Kobe’s with me every day. You guys see what I put on my shoes with the ‘Be Legendary.’ It’s a reminder.”

Whatever he’s doing, it is working. Booker hit a Kobe-like turnaround game-winner to beat the Clippers. He’s averaging 28 points and 6.5 assists a game for the restart, and shooting 40% from three. Defenses are keying on him, but with a healthy Deandre Ayton and other players stepping up — Cameron Johnson has been a surprise standout in Orlando — the Suns look sharp and keep on winning.

Kobe would be proud.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 33 on Heat, Bucks secure No. 1 seed

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a huge early deficit to get a 130-116 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat led by as many as 23 points in a first half where the team piled up 73 points despite playing without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. Miami cooled off after the break and the Bucks took the lead in the third quarter but were down by 6 to start the fourth.

Antetokounmpo, the favorite to win his second MVP award, sat out about five minutes of the fourth quarter after collecting his fifth foul with 11 minutes to go. Milwaukee trailed by 1 with about five minutes remaining before using a 20-0 run, with three dunks from Antetokounmpo, to make it 130-111 with less than a minute to go and cruise to the victory.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton played 30 and 34 minutes respectively after the stars both sat out the entire second half of their last game on Tuesday.

Duncan Robinson had 21 points for the Heat, who lost to Milwaukee for the first time this season after winning the first two meetings.

The Heat led by 6 with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth foul on a charge and headed to the bench. Andre Iguodala made a 3 for Miami before the Bucks scored the next 13 points, capped by a 3 from Bledsoe, to take a 107-103 lead with about seven minutes remaining.

Robinson made a 3-pointer to end a scoring drought of almost four minutes for Miami with about 6 ½ minutes to go and Antetokounmpo re-entered the game soon after that.

The Heat led by 12 with about 10 minutes left in third quarter before Milwaukee used a 16-3 run to take an 82-81 lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Antetokounmpo and Wesley Matthews each had five points each in that span to help close the gap.

The Bucks cut the lead to 3 with a dunk by Antetokounmpo late in the third. But the Heat wrapped up the quarter with a 5-2 spurt to take a 98-92 lead into the fourth.

Report: Bulls likely to keep Jim Boylen as coach for financial reasons

Bulls coach Jim Boylen
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The Bulls appeared ready to fire Jim Boylen. After all, Chicago just hired a new team president in Arturas Karnisovas who’d want to pick his own coach. That was unlikely to be Boylen, whose tenure had been defined by players disliking him, ill-timed timeouts and losing.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

But as the Sun-Times learned this week, even if Karnisovas didn’t like what he would have seen from Boylen he would likely be handcuffed from making a change.

According to several sources, there is strong growing momentum that financial concerns the Reinsdorfs have about the 2020-21 NBA season will keep Boylen in his current seat, as well as most of the coaching staff.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has earned a reputation for his frugality. However, the economic downturn surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has caused many teams to tighten their belts. The financial consequences will likely continue into next season.

But this puts Chicago at a disadvantage.

Boylen has looked like one of the NBA’s worst coaches. Though Bulls ownership is more optimistic than most on Boylen and he could exceed expectations, it’s telling that Chicago probably wouldn’t have kept him based on merit. This is about saving money and hoping for the best.

That’s obviously great news for Boylen. He has improved significantly since taking over last season. More time on the job could allow him to grow into it. That said, improving from a near-mutiny in his early days doesn’t exactly mean he’s in an acceptable place now. Boylen still has a long way to go, and it could be more difficult if players are tired of him.

Nets fined $25K for injury-reporting violation

Brooklyn Nets
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Earlier this season, Kyrie Irving missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Throughout the absence, the Nets provided few details and no clear timeline. Eventually, a report said Irving could miss 2-3 additional weeks with bursitis. The Nets denied it. Later, Irving confirmed he had bursitis then returned nearly three weeks after the report.

Finally, Brooklyn caught the league’s ire.

NBA release:

The NBA today announced that the Brooklyn Nets have been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.

It’s unclear what specifically caused this violation. Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Jamal Crawford and Rodions Kurucs have all appeared on the Nets’ injury report during the resumption. As 19-point underdog, Brooklyn pulled a historic upset of the Bucks. Remember, public injury disclosures are primarily about preserving gambling integrity.

For the NBA not to reveal even basic details while fining the Nets for their lack of transparency is ironic. It’s also ironic this fine comes amid a restart that featured the NBA being highly secretive about player heath.

The Clippers got fined $50,000 earlier this season for saying Kawhi Leonard was healthy. What did Brooklyn do that was less egregious but still worth of a fine?