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NBA PM: Lakers, LeBron After Kobe?
Posted By Eric Pincus On September 6, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Los Angeles Lakers have about $100 million in committed salaries going into the 2012/13 NBA Season. With luxury taxes, the team is looking at a total payroll of about $130 million.
The goal and expectation for the Lakers is to sign newcomer Dwight Howard to a long-term extension next summer starting at about $20.5 million, which would keep the Lakers deep in the tax. Next year the rate increases so dramatically, the Lakers could conceivably double-up into uncharted territory.
Certainly they’ll try to cost-cut before then but if they win a title as is? How far will the Buss family go to keep winning championships?
Despite their massive projected payrolls for the next two seasons, the Lakers only have one player in the books for the 2014/15 NBA Season. Assuming they do retain Dwight Howard, LA would have about $32 million invested in just Steve Nash and Howard.
Both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will have completed their contracts. Could this be the final two years they’re in Los Angeles? Over the summer, Bryant has noted that he expects to play just two or three more seasons. Does he decide to retire or will the Lakers be faced with a difficult decision?
Bryant would be eligible for a new deal starting at around $32-33 million (a number no other team would reasonably be capable of nearing). Is there a dollar figure both Bryant and the Lakers would be comfortable settling on and does that negotiation go smoothly or contentiously? Could Bryant actually end his career on a different team altogether?
Projecting the cap to $62 million, if the Lakers waived the rights to every single free agent, they’d have about $25 million in cap space (accounting for minimum cap holds). Retaining Bryant would take the Lakers out of free agency, at least on a major scale.
Notably 2014 may be a huge summer with a long list of stars (2014 NBA Free Agents).
The biggest name could be LeBron James of the Miami HEAT, who has an early termination option. Today Miami is on top but all possibilities must be considered. If James opted for free agency and the Lakers were given the choice between a 36-year old Bryant and nearly 30-year old James, wouldn’t they have to go for the latter?
While there’s no certainty yet that Howard re-signs, assuming he does, the Lakers would need to find Bryant’s successor on the perimeter to pair with the still-young center.
Other free agents in 2014 might include Dwyane Wade (ETO), Chris Bosh (ETO), Carmelo Anthony (ETO), Rudy Gay (PO), Amar’e Stoudemire (ETO), Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki, Luol Deng, Zach Randolph (PO), O.J. Mayo, John Wall (R), DeMarcus Cousins (R), Marcin Gortat, Andrew Bogut and number of other impact players.
Tax may no longer be an issue in 2014 should the Lakers look to reload with cap room, a move they haven’t made since the team signed Shaquille O’Neal in 1996.
Of course that assumes they part ways with Bryant (and Gasol) which would be a major, but ultimately inevitable, step into the future for the Lakers.
Given the number of players with options for 2014, another path could lead to Bryant staying on a one-year deal and the Lakers waiting a season (2015 NBA Free Agents) to reload.
As rich as 2014 may be, opt-ins could make 2015 a monster. In addition to the James and the Miami trio who all have player options for 2015, the list would likely include Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving (R), Ricky Rubio (R), Eric Gordon, Klay Thompson (R), Tim Duncan, Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, Anthony, Gay, Stoudemire, Nash, Randolph and an even longer list than 2014′s.
It’s not clear what path the Lakers will take but they stand to have significant spending power in 2014, or 2015 if they delay, to find a headliner to partner with Howard.
That’s assuming Howard does stay as a long-term Laker. If he did indeed decide to leave after a year, the Lakers could have in the neighborhood of $46.7 million in spending power in 2014 and/or even more in 2015.
Free Agents by Year
In addition to 2014 and 2015, HOOPSWORLD has year-by year free agency breakdowns.
A few notable names remain this summer (2012 NBA Free Agents) including Derek Fisher, Leandro Barbosa, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Howard, Michael Redd, Alonzo Gee (restricted), Tracy McGrady, Matt Barnes, Kenyon Martin, Ivan Johnson (restricted), Anthony Tolliver, Darko Milicic and Josh Harrelson.
Next year’s top available stars (2013 NBA Free Agents) include Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson and Josh Smith. A number of notable players may hit restricted free agency like James Harden, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans . . . if extensions can’t be worked out before the end of October. Of the list, Evans is the least likely to extend.
By 2016, the list shrinks considerably (2016 NBA Free Agents) but if the Miami trio finish out their entire contracts, it could be another banner summer. Kevin Durant is the biggest name. Deron Williams has an early termination option. Other stars include Kevin Love, Joe Johnson, Nene, David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Brook Lopez and JaVale McGee.
The entire 2012 draft class would be eligible for restricted free agency by 2016.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement stressed shorter contracts and the 2017 list is just eight-players long (2017 NBA Free Agents). Three of the eight may hit free agency in 2016 (Deron Williams, Ersan Ilyasova and Jason Thompson) leaving Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and George Hill.
Blake Griffin can opt out in 2017 but as it stands, he’s the lone player on the 2018 NBA Free Agent list.
Sean Williams: “I’m one of the best athletes in the game”
Faced with an overloaded roster, the Houston Rockets recently waived forward/center Sean Williams despite trading for him in late July.
Williams came over as part of the Courtney Lee deal but was never part of Houston’s future plans.
Despite bouncing from team to team after a few tumultuous years with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, Williams has spent time with the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and briefly with the Rockets.
Currently he’s working out in Houston with John Lucas, hoping to find another opportunity. Williams is confident teams know how athletic he is and given he’s 6’10″ and just 25-years old, he could very well end up on a roster despite some lingering questions about his maturity.
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