Holy hell, this sure is some insane chatter going on these days. The inmates are increasingly looking to take over the asylum, aren’t they? Or are they? The media LOVES to talk ENDLESSLY about CP3 wants this, Dwight wants that, etc. etc. But none of us really know what’s going on. Nor should we unless free agency begins and these guys ‘do what’s best for them’ (to paraphrase Dwight).
We’ve all heard the rumors (that’s all they are now) going back and forth of the Clippers and Celtics talking, and the others about Dwight maybe wanting to team up with CP3 on the Clippers. There’s also the chance that IF the Lakers don’t give a FUCK about the Salary Cap they can bring Chris Paul to the Lakers– He and Dwight both love L.A., but Chris isn’t sold on the Clippers and Don Sterling’s firing of VDN and blaming Chris REALLY made Chris upset (supposedly, according to RUMORS).
But let’s also look at some dollars and cents here. You can toss in draft picks, etc. to ‘sweeten’ a deal, but the fact is salaries must match within 125% either way (for a single contract year, beyond that doesn’t matter), salary cap is a bigger issue to consider for some teams than others (and some owners than others, for that matter), as as future plans. Here’s what I can glean so far:
Lakers: Want to win championships, will spend money like water
Clippers: Want to sell tickets to games and merchandise, uber cheap owner
Celtics: Want to win championships, cautious about money generally
So when you think about it that way, when people are saying that Clippers owner Donald Sterling wants to get this player and that I look at them twice and slap them sideways. You all know it comes down to the dollars, and Sterling doesn’t like to open his checkbook that often. He MASSIVELY overpaid DeAndre Jordan, and now no one wants that guys crappy salary. Blake is a dunking machine who plays no defense and has a terrible shot, WITH A MASSIVE CONTRACT, and needs someone to pass to him, AND he’s got knee issues. Last time we saw a guy like that? AMARE STOUDAMIRE! I think that’s a really REALLY bad omen.
With that said, the Lakers want long term stars, and even with Dwight having had a bad year, HE WAS COMING OFF BACK SURGERY, and we had another shitty coaching transition, and the coach didn’t know how to limit player minutes, etc. etc.
But again… back to the dollars and cents. Dwight is a free agent, Chris Paul is a free agent. Everyone else in the mix is on contracts. Dwight and Chris can each get the most money with their current teams (Dwight: Lakers, Chris: Clippers) including a 5th year. SO… if these guys want to play together either they A) go to the other guy’s team, or B) go somewhere else together (Atlanta or Houston?) and sacrifice that 5th year together… that doesn’t sound like ‘doing what’s best for me’ to me, does it? Even if SOMEHOW they convince their teams to do sign and trades, here are what the other possible tradable guys are making next year:
Pau Gasol – $19.3 mil, 1 year left, solid player but expensive
Steve Nash – $9.3 mil, 2 years left, trailing off skillwise big time
Metta World Peace – $7.7 mil (player option), 1 year left, inconsistent and trailing off
DeAndre Jordan – $11.0 mil, 2 years left, massively overpaid for poor production
Blake Griffin – $16.4 mil, 4 years left, explosive dunker, questionable knees and… that’s it
Jamal Crawford – $5.2 mil, 3 years left, solid perimeter scorer, not bad contract
Eric Bledsoe – $2.6 mil, 2 years left, great backup PG, unsure how he’d fare as starter, cheap for 2 years then may command big jump
Caron Butler – $8.0 mil, 1 year left, disappeared in the playoffs, expiring contract
Paul Pierce – $15.3 mil, 1 year left, on the decline but still really good, expiring value
Kevin Garnett – $11.5 mil, 2 years left, has a no trade clause, will ONLY go to L.A. TEAMS, will only leave if Pierce is getting traded
Jeff Green – $8.7 mil, 3 years left (3rd is player option), picked up his play but is fairly expensive vs. his production as a role player
Courtney Lee – $5.2 mil, 3 years left, similar to Green is young and athletic but lengthy contract for uncertainty
Jason Terry – $5.2 mil, 2 years left, not as hot a shooter as his Mavs days, like a better Steve Blake
So there are some big questions being considered, and most don’t have solid answers:
If Dwight said he’s leaving the Lakers, why would the Lakers agree to a sign-and-trade?
The Lakers have hinted to wanting to remain competitive for Summer 2014. What could they get from the Clippers? Blake Griffin would give them something now, but the Amare comparisons do not bode well for them. Cap room might be a greater consideration. Getting Eric Bledsoe would be nice, but the Lakers don’t even know if they’ll be running D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense with the even older Kobe, Pau, and Metta (if they don’t amnesty him first) even if Bledsoe and Griffin are on the team.
If the Clippers/Celtics talks are ‘serious’, how can anything happen without the Clippers shipping out DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, and the Celtics shipping out Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
KG has already said he won’t waive his no trade clause unless Pierce is gone, and they market to nab Pierce is not that big right now. So IF the Clippers agreed to take Pierce and KG (instantly making themselves much older), the only way (moneywise) the trade could work, and bring Doc Rivers over in the process, would be to send the Celtics DeAndre (who while young is still pretty useless offensively) AND Blake– the latter whom the Clippers said is ‘untouchable’ for the most part. So what is the point of these talks? The Clippers want to impress CP3 and get him to stay by bringing in Doc Rivers to coach and KG to play PF/C… but they’re not willing to trade Blake Griffin… and the Celtics don’t just want DeAndre Jordan, and while getting Eric Bledsoe could be nice, it doesn’t work moneywise, and he and Rondo would be battling it out for who controls the ball, kinda like Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings did in Milwaukee this past season… Oh and KG WON’T waive his no trade clause unless Pierce is being shipped out…. OH AND YOU NEED TO SEND OUT PIERCE AND KG FOR BLAKE AND DEANDRE FOR THE MONEY TO WORK… AAARRGGHHH…. Don Sterling’s idiocy is off the charts here, and the Celtics’ Danny Ainge is smart enough to think about his team’s long term future by just waiting for KG and Pierce’s contracts to expire after next year (well.. Pierce’s, then KG will WANT to go someplace else is just retire before the 2014-15 season).
How can Chris Paul and Dwight Howard ‘realistically’ end up playing together?
In total truth, both players don’t really ‘owe it’ to their latest teams, the Lakers and Clippers, to get a sign-and-trade done in any way. It would just help out their new teams (assuming they go elsewhere) with more room to bring them in, and sign some fresh blood. With that said, IF one of them wants to stay where they are and bring the other in (Chris on the Clippers, brings on Dwight.. Dwight on the Lakers, brings in Chris) they would either have to hope the ‘winning’ team can put the pressure on for a sign and trade, or be willing to take less money one way or another. Here’s the possibilities I can see being considered:
A) CP3 and Dwight on the Lakers – If Chris wants to be a Laker again (after his 47 mins of it 2 years ago before Stern nixed it) it would first be on the Lakers to go WAYYYYY over the salary cap. This has a slim to none chance of happening. Chris would lose on that 4th year by donning the purple and gold, but more importantly his lets say $19.5 mil salary (up from around $17.8 mil last year) would add to the Lakers’ mix of these guys: Kobe at $30.5 mil, Dwight at $20.5 mil (estimated), Pau at $19.3 mil, Nash at $9.3 mil, Metta (likely) at $7.7 mil… and another few mil for others… but that’s JUST the starting lineup! A sign and trade would help the Lakers, but why would the Clippers do that? The Clippers wouldn’t have any interest in Pau (even if he’s an expiring), or willing to take the elder Nash vs. their more than capable Bledsoe who’s younger, probably better, and definitely cheaper (and Don Sterling LOVES cheap!). IF the Lakers were to say ‘fuck it, let’s burn HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN SALARY CAP PENALTIES!!’… then this could happen.
B) CP3 and Dwight on the Clippers – This is being bandied about quite a lot lately. Both guys want to stay in L.A., and play together, and the Clippers might be able to force it to happen. IF Dwight just walked straight over, this would be mega expensive for the Clippers. BOTH Chris and Dwight would need new contracts, and Dwight would definitely not get that 5th year, but it would still be a ton of money. Still… is it worth it to him to lose $30 MILLION to stay in the same town? If so, here’s the cost to the Clippers without a sign a trade: CP3 at $19.5 mil, Dwight at $20.5 mil, Griffin at $16.4 mil, DeAndre at $11.0 mil, next highest would be Caron Butler at $8.0 mil…. Eric Bledsoe at just $2.6 mil is cheap and good, but don’t impact the salary cap. But given Don Sterling’s obsession with saving money why would he break the bank to keep Chris Paul when he can just promote Eric Bledsoe and let Chris Paul walk? He then WOULDN’T have to pay nearly $20 mil to BOTH Paul and Howard… saving $40 mil alone on the contracts, and tens of millions more on salary cap penalties (the team would have to go over to bring in role players). In the new CBA’s world of the NBA teams and pretty much afford 2 big stars, 2 medium stars, and a bunch of role players IF they want to stay under the cap (the Lakers don’t usually care). SO…. that means the only want this Clippers could make this happen is to get the Lakers to agree to a sign and trade for Griffin and another $2 to $4 mil piece. The Lakers would say NO WAY to DeAndre Jordan ($11.0 mil) and Caron Butler ($8.0 mil) for Dwight, so Blake it is… but then that means the only other player that would be ‘sweet’ enough might be Bledsoe… who’s a great, cheap player. Good on that… but the Lakers are still wary of Blake who players no D, has no jump shooting, is injury prone, and would slam any chances of cap space later if he’s supposed to be a franchise player– which everyone says he really isn’t worth being…. So…. the Lakers would probably say no here and opt for the cap room, leaving the Clippers to decide if paying an assload is worth it (they’re not the Lakers, but let’s see if they have the balls to play that very expensive game).
C) CP3 and Dwight on the Rockets – These could be the most likely scenarios if they want to play together. The Rockets are a bit tricky because James Harden is making $13.7 mil next year, and while Lin and Omer Asuk are both making just $5.2 mil in 2013-14, in the final 2014-15 of their contracts it balloons up to $15.9 mil each!! Yikes!! Getting both CP3 and Dwight to come over now means they have to find takers for both Lin and Asuk… and NO ONE wants either of them (especially with such painful blow up contracts!!). So a sign and trade might be next to impossible unless James Harden is part of that deal– ironic considering he was the one lobbying to get Dwight over in Houston. If CP3 and Howard walk over they both lose a 5th year worth $25-$30 mil, and even with the ‘Texas saving of no income tax’ it doesn’t matter too much– players pay taxes based on EVERY GAME IN EVERY STATE THEY PLAY IN. A few more games in your home state really don’t make as big an impact as many think it does.
D) CP3 and Dwight on the Hawks – So then there’s Atlanta; the Hawks have a very unique proposition for both CP3 and Dwight, should they want to come over. Josh Smith is off the books, so even if he suddenly wanted to come back to play with buddy Dwight and new friend Chris Paul, they Hawks would tell him to hold up. Smith made $13.2 mil last year and spent all season making it known he wanted out. If Chris and Dwight took up $40 mil in new contracts, the Hawks might not even want to sign Smith. Also, the ONLY big contract on the team next year is Al Horford at $12 mil. The rest of the team is pretty much empty right now… meaning after Dwight and Chris signed up the Hawks could go shopping for cheap role players to add on. Still, with Dwight at C, Horford at his natural PF, and CP3 at PG you’ve got a solid tandem that would challenge LeBron, Bosh, and Wade in the East next season. Again, BOTH Dwight and Chris would have to be willing to sacrifice that 5th year, but as of right now it’s the most likely scenario for them to play together and NOT seek some crazy sign and trade deal. The only small hitch (other than both guys saying goodbye to a 5th year of $25-$30 mil) is Dwight has for some reason not been a fan of playing in his hometown of Atlanta. He’s never elaborated on it, maybe he’s too close to Orlando, but that’s something there. He’d be on his 3rd team in 3 years, but it would be the price to pay for playing alongside Chris Paul.
So anyway, there’s my breakdown of the latest on the Lakers/Clippers/Celtics/Dwight/CP3/KG/Pierce/Griffin/Doc insanity going on these days. Man, I almost miss the pre-Twitter days where we had to wait entire days or weeks for news! 🙂
Ok so the Clippers are set for the playoffs, while the Lakers are still struggling to secure the 8th spot– something that may not be known until the season is officially done.
With that said, rumors keep persisting that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Coach Vinny Del Negro are are all different pages, with the infighting threatening to tear apart the squad (1st: http://bit.ly/16Y0Mhy 2nd: http://lat.ms/XvztdG). Almost the opposite of the Lakers– infighting early in the year, getting along now– the Clippers may fall off quickly in the playoffs and lose Chris Paul in the process– if the star PG is willing to give up big bucks to walk over to the real L.A. team.
Here’s how I see it:
– Chris Paul is earning $17.8 mil this season, and an unrestricted FA in the summer.
– Blake Griffin makes just $7.2 mil this season, but signed a 5-year $95 mil extension starting next year. In short, he’s the Clippers’ future (they hope alongside Chris Paul).
– DeAndre Jordan makes $10.5 mil this season, $11.0 for 2013-14, and $11.4 mil for 2014-15 before he’s off their books. That’s a lot for an athletic but that’s is C wannabe.
– Kobe Bryant makes $27.8 mil this season and $30.4 mil the next, after which he may most likely retire.
– Pau Gasol makes $19.0 mil this season and $19.3 mil the next, after which he’d either have to take a massive pay cut (at his number of years in the league at that point [10+ years] the vet’s min for him is $1.448 mil), go elsewhere, or retire.
– Dwight Howard is earning $19.3 mil this season, and an unrestricted FA in the summer, though it’s looking likely the Lakers will offer him a 5 year max contract.
– Steve Nash is earning $8.9 mil this season, $9.3 mil in 2013-14, and $9.7 in 2014-15. He will likely retire after the 2014-15 season.
– Metta World Peace is earning $7.3 mil this season and has a player option for 2013-14 for $7.7 mil, he would be foolish to opt out and seek more (given the Lakers’ tax position) but he reporting is thinking about doing so.
I got all of the details of salaries, exceptions, maximums and minimums from Larry Coon’s CBA Salary Faq here: http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm
It’s pretty confusing, but most things in the new CBA have been set up to close as many loopholes as possible, and to discourage players from leaving their current team for another lest they are willing to give up big money. Chris Paul is free to walk away from the Clippers after this season, but jumping onto the Lakers may not be so easy. The Lakers are WAY over the cap next year, ESPECIALLY if they sign both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace (that’s a LOT of money right there).
But that’s not to say it’s not possible. A lot of it rides on the Lakers’ willingness to take on even more tax penalties for one season (2013-14) before Kobe and Pau hopefully retire, and on Chris Paul earning less from a new Lakers contract vs. a continuing Clippers one. In case you don’t remember, here are the maximum best case contracts Chris could nab with each team after this season:
Continuing with the Clippers:
Max 20% contract increase, max 7.5% annual increases (maximum $450,000 of base year), max 5 year contract
Year 1 – 2013-14 – $21,335,348
Year 2 – 2014-15 – $21,785,348
Year 3 – 2015-16 – $22,235,348
Year 4 – 2016-17 – $22,685,348
Year 5 – 2017-18 – $23,135,348
TOTAL CONTRACT – $111,176,740
Signing as a FA with the Lakers:
Max 20% contract increase, max 4.5% annual increases (maximum $450,000 of base year), max 4 year contract
Year 1 – 2013-14 – $21,335,348
Year 2 – 2014-15 – $21,785,348
Year 3 – 2015-16 – $22,235,348
Year 4 – 2016-17 – $22,685,348
TOTAL CONTRACT – $88,491,392
So the max annual increases are negated with the $450,000 maximum regardless, so it comes down to losing out on that 5th year of $23.1 mil. It’s not THAT BAD, but it’s still guaranteed money nonetheless. The nice this is Chris just turned 27 in May, and after the 4th year he’d be just 31. If he’s healthy and doing great his ‘new contract’ with the Lakers (if he stayed there) or anywhere else could potentially be another 20% spike, instead of the $450,000 max additional year he’d get at age 32.
Now if Chris Paul is okay with the risk of the 5th year being open, and he’d be ready to build Showtime duo with Dwight, the Lakers fans can get really excited. But maybe not yet… The next thing is if the Lakers would be willing to take on some insane taxes for that time. Taking on Chris and Dwight’s max salary expectations for 2013-14 also falls into the first year the luxury taxes enter a graduated tax level system, so it’s gonna be BAD… even worse if you’re a ‘repeater’, which means your team was over the luxury tax limits the season before (2012-13, which the Lakers most definitely were by about $30 mil, at $100 mil the were that much past the roughly $70 mil barrier).
Here are the tax rates beginning 2013-14:
Now let me simplify some math so everyone’s brains don’t explode at the same time. Let’s keep the players on the Lakers’ roster as in for 2013-14 (http://hoopshype.com/salaries/la_lakers.htm) and add another $10 mil or so for 4-6 various minimum salaries, for bench roles, here’s what 2013-14 might look like if the Lakers keep Dwight and get Chris:
2013-14 Lakers potential salaries:
$30.4 mil – Kobe Bryant
$23.1 mil – Dwight Howard
$21.3 mil – Chris Paul
$19.3 mil – Pau Gasol
$9.3 mil – Steve Nash
$7.7 mil – Metta World Peace (assuming he opts in)
$4.0 mil – Steve Blake
$3.9 mil – Chris Duhon
$3.5 mil – Jordan Hill
$1.5 mil – Jodie Meeks (team option, he’s cheap so I think the Lakers will keep him)
$10.0 mil – Various minimum signings
$134.0 mil salary on contract
As if that’s not bad enough, let’s play the ‘graduated taxes for repeaters’ game too!
2013-14 Lakers potential above the luxury cap tax penalties:
Salary up to ~$70 mil = $0 (no penalty taxes)
Tier $70-$75 mil – next $5 mil x $2.50 tax rate = $12.5 mil penalty taxes
Tier $75-$80 mil – next $5 mil x $2.75 tax rate = $13.75 mil penalty taxes
Tier $80-$85 mil – next $5 mil x $3.50 tax rate = $17.5 mil penalty taxes
Tier $85-$90 mil – next $5 mil x $4.25 tax rate = $21.25 mil penalty taxes
Tier $95-$100 mil – next $5 mil x $4.75 tax rate = $23.75 mil penalty taxes
Tier $100-$105 mil – next $5 mil x $5.25 tax rate = $26.25 mil penalty taxes
Tier $105-$110 mil – next $5 mil x $5.75 tax rate = $28.75 mil penalty taxes
Tier $110-$115 mil – next $5 mil x $6.25 tax rate = $31.25 mil penalty taxes
Tier $115-$120 mil – next $5 mil x $6.75 tax rate = $33.75 mil penalty taxes
Tier $120-$125 mil – next $5 mil x $7.25 tax rate = $36.25 mil penalty taxes
Tier $125-$130 mil – next $5 mil x $7.75 tax rate = $38.75 mil penalty taxes
Tier $130-$134 mil – last $4 mil x $8.25 tax rate = $33.0 mil penalty taxes
$316.75 mil total penalty taxes
So the Lakers would pay nearly TWO AND A HALF TIMES as much of their total salary for JUST over the cap tax penalties!! An absolutely ridiculous $450.75 MILLION in player salary and the associated penalties for having a Kobe, Pau, Dwight, Chris Paul, Nash, and Metta super duper team. I don’t know how anyone could convince Mitch K, and Jim & Jeanie Buss that it would be worth HALF A BILLION dollars to assemble this team for just one season.
Kobe and Pau falling off the books before 2014-15 clears $49.7 mil, and would help immensely. Beyond them, as of now that season is completely clear contract wise except for Steve Nash’s final year at $9.7 mil. Locking in Dwight and Chris means they’ll utilize about $44-$47 mil of cap space, leaving about $25 mil for other contracts to keep under the cap (make that $15 mil if they have Nash) or more likely they’ll just go over, but possibly not as much.
So basically, this utterly insane plan to assemble a super duper team with Chris and Dwight joining Kobe, Pau, Nash, and Metta would cost the Lakers BIG TIME, but then the future would be exceptionally bright and clear if the team makes a commitment to getting back under the cap. This would take some big time restraint on future spending (no LeBron chasing in the Summer of 2014) and a sharper commitment to getting young, cheap, role-defined talent like the Spurs have done over the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili era. It’s very, VERY doable, but it takes the big risk of a half billion salary and penalties payout next season, in order to really rebuilt on the fly successfully in the post-Kobe, post-Pau years. Doing this without a lull in playoff contention years is incredibly tough… but if there’s any team willing to take on mind-blowing risks like these, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers.
Oh, and replacing Mike D’Antoni with Dwight & Kobe’s much preferred Phil Jackson couldn’t hurt your championship chances either 🙂
Former Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson said the current team needed a ‘come to Jesus’ moment to get their asses in gear, and I’m wondering if this may have arrived in the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss. Since Feb 1st the Lakers have gone 8-3, with 3 straight wins since Dr. Buss’ death after the All-Star break (against solid teams in the Celtics, Blazers, and Mavs no less).
But they’re still at the 9th seed, about 3 games behind the 8th seed Rockets. Over the next week here are Lakers wins and other team losses L.A. needs to get into the 8th or 7th seed (6th or 5th would be fantastic, 4th or higher is impossible):
Mon, Feb 25:
- Lakers @ Nuggets – Need Lakers to win
- Celtics @ Jazz – Need Celtics to win
Tue, Feb 26:
- Warriors @ Pacers – Need Pacers to win
- Bucks @ Mavs – Need Bucks to win
Wed, Feb 27:
- Warriors @ Knicks – Need Knicks to win
- Mavs @ Grizzles – Need Grizzlies to win
- Bucks @ Rockets – Need Bucks to win
- Hawks @ Jazz – Need Hawks to win
- Nuggets @ Blazers – PUSH? (Nuggets win pushes Blazers’ record down, Blazers’ win makes Nuggets’ record worse)
Thu, Feb 28:
- T’Wolves @ Lakers – Need Lakers to win
Fri, Mar 1:
- Rockets @ Magic – Need Magic to win
- Warriors @ Celtics – Need Celtics to win
- Grizzlies @ Heat – Need Heat to win (closes seed records’ gaps slightly)
- Mavs @ Nets – Need Nets to win
- Bobcats @ Jazz – Need Bobcats to win
- Thunder @ Nuggets – Need Thunder to win
Sat, Mar 2:
- Warriors @ 76ers – Need 76ers to win
- T’Wolves @ Blazers – Need T’Wolves to win
Sun, Mar 3:
- Hawks @ Lakers – Lakers need to win
- Grizzlies @ Magic – Magic need to win
- Mavs @ Rockets – PUSH? (Mavs win pushes Rockets’ record down, Rockets’ win makes Mavs’ record worse)
These aren’t ALL the games being played these days, mind you, just the ones that will impact the Lakers. So let’s see how the next week pans out. Meanwhile, if the top 4 teams in the West keep on pace then getting between the 6th and 8th seeds would make for a varied set of challenges for the Lakers:
If the Lakers get the 6th seed, would likely face the Clippers:
- Pros – If you can neutralize CP3 (or he gets hurt) they’re a young, disorganized team. Defense is average at best. While they’ve been a breakout regular season team, and CP3 has turned Blake Griffin into a dunking dynamo, they have yet to handle long-playoff game series like the Lakers have year after year.
- Cons – Bevy of scoring options, CP3 can dish it everywhere AND score on you, they’ll run you out of gas if you play at their pace. If they can’t get inside for Blake’s dunks, DeAndre’s scores, or Chris Paul’s dribble shots they’ll rotate quickly out to perimeter scorers. The Lakers aren’t scoring as well as the Clippers are.
If the Lakers get the 7th seed, would likely face the Thunder:
- Pros – With a healthy Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, and facilitating Kobe & Nash, the Lakers can outscore the Thunder inside. The Thunder gave up backup PG Eric Maynor for a trade exception, so they better hope Westbrook can carry more of the game (and not get hurt).
- Cons – The Thunder are younger, faster, more cohesive, have Durant & Westbrook (and even Kevin Martin has replaced James Harden well!). Playing their up-tempo style of offense will exhaust the Lakers quickly.
If the Lakers get the 8th seed, would likely face the Spurs:
- Pros – The Spurs are in the same retirement home as the Lakers, except for a few younger players on both teams. Kobe & Pau are familiar with their outside-in style of play, can help Dwight, Nash, & Clark learn how to neutralize them if they pay attention to their plays. Earl Clark could be the swingman breakout that scores inside while Dwight & Kobe are extra covered.
- Cons – Parker and role players are running a steady game pace, Duncan and others are still playing great defense, both can use their experience and familiarity with each other to outplay the Lakers. If the Spurs can frustrate Howard and double team Kobe they’ll force the rest of the Lakers to carry the scoring load– something that doesn’t look likely.
Even if the Lake Show managed to survive the 1st round, going into the 2nd round and/or the Western Conference Finals against (most likely) the other 1 or 2 teams would be insanely exhausting. And if by some sheer miracle the Lakers somehow (by the grace of God, Jordan, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nutella s’mores crepes) made it to the Finals, I could not fathom the Lakers beating the Heat after climbing that ridiculous mountain that is the West.
However… if…. and I seriously mean IF the Lakers DID beat the Heat or anyone else in the Finals…. after the fuck of batshit insane crazy you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me-ness and what-else-could-go-wrong-ness that was the 2012-13 Lakers season….. then I would challenge ALL of you to say Kobe isn’t better than Jordan. MJ NEVER had a season filled with this much drama, bullshit, injuries, losses (owner’s death), team infighting, uncertainty, trade paranoia, media pressure, etc. etc. etc. It would mean 6 rings in 8 Finals appearance…. with this year’s potential one the absolute, all bullshit aside, HARDEST ring to earn. Durant in the West and LeBron out in the East simply add to that legacy of rival difficulty. I’m not saying this WILL happen… but if it did…. it would make this one of the historically most bipolar seasons for an NBA champion Lakers team EVER.
In a recent email chat with my NBA buddies I was asked who were going to be the NBA’s available free agents in Summer 2014– for when the Lakers are supposedly making a push for the post-Kobe Bryant era. It’s not such a simple question given restricted vs. unrestricted statuses, etc. So I put together a comprehensive financial guide of all the NBA players and their upcoming statues.
I created a detailed spreadsheet has all the specifics I gleaned from HoopsHype’s NBA salaries pages, and it’s free to check out here: http://bit.ly/UoUGGZ
Just for reference here are the 11 categories and 2-5 examples of the highest paid players in each segment:
1. Free Agent if team doesn’t extend Qualifying Offer for 2014-15:
- John Wall
- Evan Turner
- Derrick Favors
- DeMarcus Cousins
2. Not available as a Free Agent, under contract beyond the 2013-14 season:
- Amare Stoudemire
- Joe Johnson
- Kevin Durant
- Blake Griffin
- Deron Williams
3. Player Option for 2013-14 then Unrestricted Free Agent, or can be Free Agent for the 2013-14 season:
- Andre Iguodala
- Ben Gordon
- Hidayet Turkoglu
- Richard Jefferson
- Monta Ellis
4. Player Option for 2014-15, else Unrestricted Free Agent in Summer 2014:
- Carmelo Anthony
- LeBron James
- Chris Bosh
- Dwyane Wade
- Rudy Gay
5. Team Option for 2013-14 AND 2014-15:
- Robin Lopez
- DeShawn Stevenson
- Aleksandar Pavlovic
- Willie Green
6. Team Option for 2013-14 then Unrestricted Free Agent, else Free Agent earlier:
- Francisco Garcia
- Richard Hamilton
- Hakim Warrick
- Carlos Delfino
- Greg Stiemsma
7. Team Option for 2014-15, else Unrestricted Free Agent in Summer 2014:
- Anderson Varejao
- Jameer Nelson
- John Salmons
- Kyrie Irving
- Anthony Davis
8. Team Qualifying Offer for 2013-14 possible then Restricted Free Agent for 2 yrs (only 2 players):
- Kawhi Leonard
- Cory Joseph
9. Team Qualifying Offer for 2013-14 possible then Unrestricted Free Agent, else Free Agent earlier:
- Tyreke Evans
- Tiago Splitter
- Brandon Jennings
- Gerald Henderson
- Tyler Hansbrough
10. Unrestricted Free Agent after 2013-14, no additional variables:
- Kobe Bryant
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Pau Gasol
- Paul Pierce
- Emeka Okafor
11. Unknown, might be signed earlier or out of the league:
- Gilbert Arenas
- Brandon Roy
- Andray Blatche
- Josh Childress
- Brendan Haywood
The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling, so are the Sacramento Kings (soon to be Seattle-bound Sonics??), and the Memphis Grizzlies are already thinking ahead by wanting to trade Rudy Gay for more manageable financial assets. So what do you think of this possible trade scenario:
Lakers win because:
- Get two young and dynamic, and defensive-minded scorers in Gay & Evans… and lord knows the Lakers NEED defensive-minded scorers.
- Set themselves up for Dwight’s future with 2 guys (1 locked up now, the other after the season if he does well).
- Gay is a solid swingman who can learn from Kobe, while Evans learns from both Nash and Kobe as a combo guard.
- Gets the team younger and faster immediately instead of waiting with further uncertainly.
Lakers lose because:
- They entrench themselves in D’Antoni’s run-n-gun style by getting rid of Pau.
- Lose on some of the interior presence they had with the Dwight/Pau twin towers (though they didn’t seem to work well under Mike D anyway).
- Unsure how Gay & Evans will respond to playing behind Nash & Kobe this season.
- Nash might be okay letting Evans start with Kobe, but no way Kobe lets Gay start over him.
- Maybe an Evans-Kobe-Gay perimeter might be workable, with Metta or Jamison at PF.
Kings (Sonics) win because:
- Get the mentor for DeMarcus Cousins they sorely need in Pau.
- Even create a dynamic finesse/power duo in Pau/DeMarcus.
- Open up PG logjam with Evans and give Fredette and Thomas more playing time.
- Clear out longer, heavy contracts of Salmons and Thompson.
- Get a serviceable backup to Cousins in Haddadi.
Kings (Sonics) lose because:
- Have to take on Pau’s hefty contract this year and the next.
- Turning 3 players into 2, really with 1 of them (Pau) serving as a contributor.
- May need to slow down their style of play with Pau in the rotation (might actually be a good thing).
- Still need to figure out if Keith Smart is staying head coach, and how he will use Pau with Cousins demanding the ball so much.
Grizzlies win because:
- Get rid of Rudy Gay’s big contract and don’t need to take back as hefty contracts in return.
- Jason Thompson is having a great season and his relatively cheap 5 year contract ensures he maxes out at just $6.8 million 5 years from now.
- Salmons’ contract actually goes DOWN to $7.6 million next season (2nd year of contract) and then to just $7.0 million in the final, 3rd year, which is actually a team option so they can just cut him and save from paying him.
- Move Haddadi who, in the past, has complained openly about his role with the team. Gives other players a chance to back up Marc Gasol & Z-Bo.
Grizzlies lose because:
- They must break up the Gay-Marc Gasol-Z-Bo core to save money (luxury taxes) soon.
- Losing Gay means more of the scoring load falls on Marc, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley Jr., as well as one less speedy perimeter defender in Gay.
- Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph usually play together, so getting a backup to one or both now falls to new guy Jason Thompson, and others still on the team when Haddadi is traded.
Overall, I think this is really a win-win-win for all 3 teams, despite whatever the ESPN trade machine says. As I just told a good friend I chat with often:
Grizz need to save money, can’t afford to keep Gay, get a cheap young rising star and an old guy they can cut soon.
- WIN FOR THEM.
Kings need a mentor for Cousins NOW, and someone older to get the young’uns to play nice. Also, Evans has no future with 3 other PGs taking his mins.
- WIN FOR THEM.
Lakers need perimeter defense and scoring, and need to win NOW while Kobe and Dwight are together. Also not afraid to spend (except to re-hire Phil).
- WIN FOR THEM.
So my good friend Bahador and I spent an HOUR on the phone, talking about all the teams in the NBA, and the maybe super slight chance that ANYONE would want to take Pau Gasol, given our ‘it’s doubtful we fire Mike D’Antoni’ situation.
As we went through all 32 teams, it became more and more apparent how fewer and fewer teams would ever dare to help the Lakers after the Dwightmare. Even most of the teams with WORSE records than the Lakers would say ‘go to hell’, or they just can’t make the money figures work. And remember, the Lakers have basically NO future draft picks to offset a lack of financial compatibility (we gave up most to get Ramon Sessions, then even more to get Steve Nash).
However… ONE team seemed to pop out at us as a POSSIBILITY, because even they are in trouble and might be able to use Pau Gasol.
The Sacramento Kings
Have you recovered from your stunned silence and/or rolling over in laughter? Good. Hear me and Bahador out.
The Kings are a team that, like the Lakers, are very much in disarray. They don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, they’re young, immature, undisciplined, and head coach Keith Smart is CONSTANTLY fighting with one of their stars, the insane but talented DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins (yes Noz, his nickname really is BOOGIE). The Kings have indicated that Cousins, for better or worse, is their future and Coach Smart may get ditched in order to find someone that can harness DeMarcus’ skills (and overcome his behavior) to make him a true all-star.
Tyreke Evans was their other big up and coming star just a few years back, but quickly the Kings started to lose faith in him as proven by their signing of 3 MORE PGs, all whom are doing quite well: Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette, and Isaiah Thomas. Evans is still young and talented, but looking more and more like the odd man out. As a combo guard (I likened him to a young Gilbert Arenas, Baha further clarified by saying he penetrates the middle more while Arenas had a better jumper) he’s a great player, but just isn’t getting the time he needs to blossom with 3 other guys rotating in his spot (4 if you count pure SG Marcus Thornton for the 2 spot Evans can play well).
With C/PF Cousins seen as the team’s future, he needs some serious MENTORING to get him to mature faster (like how Steve Nash has helped Darius Morris mature a bit)… this is where Gasol comes in. Pau is still extremely skilled, but he’s getting up there in age and his contract is pretty large. The Lakers, especially if they can use a young and skilled perimeter player can use Evans at the 1 and 2, backing up (and eventually succeeding) Nash and Kobe… Oh and he just turned 23 in September, so if Mike D’Antoni can make this work right he’d have Evans and Howard as a young, running, scoring, and defending duo for at least 5-7 years.
But there’s even more that needs to be looked at financially for both teams. The Lakers want to be pretty open come the summer of 2014 for whatever star sweepstakes are going on then (AND to alleviate the luxury tax headaches of next season). The Kings just want to get some of their young players to grow the hell up, and play as a TEAM instead of scrambling around all the time. Since the Lakers don’t have draft picks to really give up, they can just give Pau, as long as the Kings can give us other players with Tyreke Evans, others who’s contracts have expiring options:
Tyreke Evans would get a chance to play with Steve Nash, get some mentoring from him and Kobe, and even get some starts in front of the humble Nash as he (hopefully) quickly picks up the free flow style D’Antoni is trying to force the players to play (and failing MISERABLY with in terms of Pau, at the moment). Role-wise he and Dwight Howard would be a strong, young, and fast defensive duo, and it would help with the post-Kobe transition considerably. Salary-wise he’s quite manageable for now, with a qualifying offer of $6.9 million next season. I looked up in the CBA and basically that means Evans is a restricted free agent prior to the 2013-14 season, and if the Lakers want to pay him just $6.9 million (still part of his rookie contract) they CAN. They can also say forget it if they don’t like what he’s done, or more likely give him a bigger contract for the 2014-15 season. The smart move would be to give him the QO, then come 2014-15 see if there’s a chance to get another star, OR just stick with Tyreke if other available stars sign elsewhere (LeBron, Carmelo) and/or Tyreke and Dwight really do well together.
In terms of the other pieces needed to make this work, Francisco Garcia (SF, 32 years old, $6.1 million this season) and John Salmons (SF, 33 years old, $8.1 million this season) may add to our glut of small forward currently full of Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks, Earl Clark (out indefinitely), and Antawn Jamison (sort of)… but they might even be an improvement over anyone not named MWP. On one hand one of them becomes a backup to Metta when Jamison doesn’t crack the rotation, but on the other there are financial benefits that are even MORE tempting. Garcia’s contract has a team option for next season, so you can basically expect the Lakers to cut him no problem. Salmons is still on the books next year, but at a lower rate of just $7.6 million. He has a team option for $7.0 million prior to the 2014-15 season the Lakers would be sure to NOT exercise, whether they can net another star or not, giving them even MORE flexibility going forward.
1 young star that needs PG/SG guidance and a chance to shine and 2 aging forwards with team options in each of their last years, talk about a great deal for the Lakers! So what do the Kings get out of this? They clear up the forwards logjam these old guys are causing with Travis Outlaw, Tyler Honeycutt, James Johnson, Jason Johnson, and Thomas Robinson are already fighting for… they get out of the PG infighting they have with Evans competing with other young’uns mentioned above, and most importantly they get a skilled big man for the post they so desperately NEED to mentor and teach DeMarcus Cousins how to get to the next level. Pau and DeMarcus together might sound like an odd pair, but I’m sure whether they play together (like Pau and Bynum did) or they alternate a bit more (like Pau and Dwight are doing this year) Pau’s focus and maturity will most likely rub off on Cousins a good deal and help them form success for the team.
This is really a rare win-win for two teams in desperate need of change. I’m a big supporter of the Lakers getting rid of Mike D’Antoni in order to bring back Phil Jackson or signing Jerry Sloan up for the gig… but with so much money still being paid to the now ‘retired’ Mike Brown, and the Lakers giving Mike D’Antoni a 4 YEAR CONTRACT the Lake Show may need to get him the pieces he needs rather than continue to force some of the players to be what they’re not (in Pau’s case, an outside 3 point shooting big).
I think the thing with the Lakers is that they’re having a MAJOR identity crisis and this is ALL Jim Buss’ fault. Mike Brown may have had no idea what he’s doing, and Dwight was still finding his legs, but at least he wasn’t trying to pretend this is a ‘Showtime’ team. Jim Buss just doesn’t GET basketball like his Dad does. It’s pretty simple; you put together a team of players with certain skills and have a coach that can best utilize those skills in a complementary system.
Jim Buss wants ‘run n gun fun’ so he got us Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni… problem is we have mostly OLDER and SLOWER players that need a SYSTEM to operate, not a ‘screw the defense and just run and score’ play style that D’Antoni is known for (saw how he failed with SYSTEM-BASED Carmelo until Mike Woodson got it?). Oh and there’s that whole thing about Nash being 38 YEARS OLD. He’s still great, but he is a free and loose player, not a system player.
This is why Phil Jackson was the BEST choice for Lakers coach. He knows the players we have, and can operate successfully with a half-court offense to mask the slowing down of older players (Pau, Jamison, Dwight until he’s 100%, even Kobe and Nash to some extent). But Jim Buss’ fucking ego got in the way and he picked the wrong coach…. AGAIN…. Y’know who would have been PERFECT if not Phil? JERRY FUCKING SLOAN. I mean, the guy led Utah successfully for almost 2 decades, and took old and older Karl Malone and John Stockton into the FINALS TWICE. He knows how to utilize a half court offense when he’s got older players to maximize success… just like Phil Jackson… just like Gregg Popovich. Phil may have won the first 3 titles while Jordan was what LeBron is today, but when Jordan was slowing down after his comeback Phil drove him to work on a jumper and long-range shot (like Kobe has) so a more systematic approach would help MJ & Phil win 3 more.
For D’Antoni to succeed we NEED young, energetic, and drive to the basket players like LeBron, Durant (when he drives), Kenneth Faried, Russell Westbrook, etc…. not slower post players like Pau, Dwight at 60-75%, Jordan Hill, Antawn Jamison, etc…. Either Mike D has to go, or we need to make some changes. I LOVE Pau Gasol, but if D’Antoni can’t turn him into 2005 Shawn Marion (not happening) then we need to get an undersized, drive to the basket PF/SF like Metta World Peace is trying to be (when he’s not making 3s or dribbling like a retard). Josh Smith and a young, high energy, perimeter shooter is what Mike D’Antoni NEEDS to get us deep into the playoffs. Kobe will be Kobe, but he can’t be our only consistent perimeter shooter. Jodie Meeks has on games, and off games… we need someone ON like 85% of the time… once again IF WE STICK WITH MIKE D’ANTONI.
I believe it’s MUCH easier to fire a coach and hire a new one (damn the ‘the players have to learn something new’ logic), and if not Phil Jackson then for the love of FUCK just go hire Jerry Sloan… HE’S WAITING FOR A CALL FROM YOU, JIM BUSS, FUCKDAMMIT!!! If you refuse to do that then you gotta try to see who you can get for Pau. Again, I LOVE PAU and want to see him stay a Laker for life, but if you’re not getting rid of D’Antoni then Pau (and maybe another piece) have to go. Josh Smith and a 3 point threat should be target no. 1. Chris Paul would have been perfect for a Mike D style, but he’s not coming anytime soon.
How to convince the Hawks is another issue. As the season goes on it’s MUCH harder to push a 3 or 4 team trade, so 1 on 1 may be it. Though they know Josh Smith is leaving in the summer (he hates it there, even if they’d pay more) Atlanta is currently 3rd in the East with a 20-10 record (6-4 in the last 10 games), just behind Miami and New York. They would NOT make a trade unless they start tumbling a few spots, and/or they felt by getting Pau they would somehow shore up their size issue against East teams like the Heat, Knicks, and Indiana (taking Pau’s length and skills at the expense of Smith’s speed and power).
Oh, and they’d have to toss in another player (the shooter we want) to make the trade work– with the Hawks at 3rd in the East and the Lakers behind the Blazers, T’Wolves, and Jazz for the 8th seed in the West all the leverage might be in the Hawks’ hands. In terms of the secondary player the Lakers would want/need (IF the Hawks said ok for Josh Smith for Pau Gasol) there are several options, none of which Atlanta would really want to help L.A. with:
- Lou Williams – SG – 26 yrs old – $5.0 mil w/3 yrs left – They just got him this season for a steal, NOT trading him
- Anthony Morrow – SG – 27 yrs old – $4.0 mil w/1 yr left – New addition this season though his 3 pt shooting is at 37.8%, under his 42.5% career average (nearer to 50% in his first 2 seasons with the Warriors), DOUBTFUL they trade him
- DeShawn Stevenson – SG – 31 yrs old – $2.2 mil w/3 yrs left – Also new, and getting older, but has a cheap but lengthy contract, shooting over 40% from 3 this year but is wildly inconsistent (shot just 28% from 3 last year). Might be a POSSIBILITY but he’ll be 34/35 when his contract ends. Ugh.
- Kyle Korver – SG – 31 yrs old – $5.0 mil w/1 yr left – Getting older but a short contract, over 40% 3 pt shooting and having a good year, our BEST BET here
There’s also rookie John Jenkins, a 21 yr old rookie SG shooting 47.6% from the 3 point line, but his $1.2 mil contract is too low to make the numbers work, and Atlanta will probably want to see how he does this and next season, at least. So IF Atlanta starts falling apart this month and IF they’re willing to shake things up and IF they think Pau Gasol and Al Horford would form a great front line worth a combined $31.0 MILLION for just this season (that’s a lot of ‘ifs’)…. then Pau Gasol for Josh Smith & Kyle Korver MIGHT happen. However, according to the ESPN Trade Machine, this is the projected win/loss difference for both teams: