With Anthony Davis injured, the Lakers have been playing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (and Dwight Howard) at center.
Which says something about DeAndre Jordan.
The true center has been glued to the bench. But he – and maybe Kent Bazemore – could follow Rajon Rondo from Los Angeles in a salary-dump trade.
They are already offloaded a player in Rondo to create a roster spot, and they are looking to do more of that.
From teams that I’ve talked to, they are out there – with LeBron starting at center and eventually getting Anthony Davis back – they are looking looking to move DeAndre Jordan. Not necessarily for another player, but to move him so they can open up a roster spot. Kent Bazemore is another player that they’ve been willing to talk about, in talking with some other teams.
If they trade Jordan and/or Bazemore for no salary in return and sign a replacement to a rest-of-season minimum-salary contract today, the Lakers would reduce their luxury-tax liability by nearly $2.5 million per swap.
The Lakers would also save more if signing bough-out player(s) later in the season rather than today. (It doesn’t matter when Jordan and Bazemore get traded. Their full salaries would get removed from the books, regardless.)
These figures are based on Los Angeles’ current payroll. Other moves could affect the tax bill.
The projection also doesn’t account for the sweeteners necessary to unload Jordan and Bazemore. Other teams are likely unwilling to take those unproductive veterans without enticement. The Lakers just paid $1.1 million to dump Rondo – and that required finding a team desperate for guard help (Cavaliers) and that had a player with a smaller undesirable guarantee (Denzel Valentine, who got rerouted to the Knicks).
Whatever the exact finances in the end, these are logical moves for taxpaying teams. If they don’t believe Jordan or Bazemore will factor into the playoff rotation, the Lakers are probably better off trading them to teams outside the luxury tax.