10 Misconceptions Regarding Lakers, Free Agency, and Off-Season Plans

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles LakersThe Lakers Should Trade Nash and Pau For Draft Picks and Young Players

While that’s not a bad strategy for a team in dire need of getting younger and more athletic, it’s much easier said than done. Per the rules of the CBA, teams that are over the luxury tax can take back up to 125% of the outgoing salary plus $100,000.

Let’s say Pau’s salary for next season is $20 million (instead of $19 million). The Lakers could trade him for any combination of players making up to $25.1 million combined. In other words, the Lakers couldn’t trade Pau to another taxpaying team for just a future first round pick and someone on a rookie deal making only $2 million.

But the rules are different if the Lakers wanted to trade Pau to a non-taxpaying team. The thing to remember is the more cap space a team has or the further they are below the luxury tax threshold, the easier it is to consummate a trade. Teams like Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta, who will have plenty of cap space this summer, could all trade for Pau without the Lakers having to take back anything close to Pau’s $19 million. Considering the Lakers are on pace to pay an exorbitant amount in luxury taxes next year, they would probably prefer to dump Pau’s salary and have another team pay him than use the amnesty on him and have to pay him close to $19 million to play for someone else. Trading him would also allow them to save their amnesty for either Metta World Peace or Steve Blake, if they so choose.

The Lakers Need To Sign Kyrie Irving When He’s A Free Agent

All fans like to fantasize about signing the league’s best young players but it’s a bit of an exercise in futility. The rules of the CBA are designed to give teams a massive advantage when it comes to signing players on rookie deals. Besides being able to offer more money they can also extend them a year before any other team can even make them an offer in restricted free agency. That’s why it’s extremely rare for an emerging star not to sign an extension with the team that drafted him.

The exception to the rule is what happened with James Harden. In that instance, the Thunder couldn’t afford to sign Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Harden to 8-figure extensions. So they opted to trade Harden to Houston, who immediately extended Harden through 2018, with the chance for him to opt out in 2017. Harden has made $8.3 million through his first four seasons. You think he needed time to think about it when the Rockets offered him five years and a guaranteed $80 million? In a sport in which everyone is just a play away from tearing a knee, anyone on a rookie deal who’s offered the max or close to it, will sign it 99.99% of the time.

Besides the fact that there’s less than a .0001% chance of the Lakers acquiring Irving before 2019, the Lakers possess neither the draft picks or the promising young players that a team forced to trade a great young player is interested in.  The Thunder got back Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, who the Rockets drafted 12th overall, two future first-round picks, one of which will be in the this year’s lottery, and a future second-round pick.

So until the Lakers can accumulate some draft picks or young players that anybody wants, stop talking about adding Kyrie Irving or Damon Lillard. You’re just wasting people’s time.

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The Lakers Should Sign Brandon Jennings

This one isn’t a misconception so much as it is a demented wish. For starters, Jennings can be a restricted free agent and the Lakers have nothing to offer him that the Bucks LeBronwouldn’t match immediately. More importantly, Jennings isn’t very good so please stop lobbying for him, Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, or any other overrated or washed up players.

Just stop.

The Lakers Have Their Eye on LeBron James In 2014

While this isn’t necessarily false, it’s also a bit of a fantasy. It’s true the Lakers are primed to have plenty of cap space in 2014. However, if they re-sign Dwight they’re looking at about $30 million committed to just Dwight, Nash, and their first-round pick. That’s half of this year’s salary cap but it doesn’t include Kobe. Even though LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and a few other big names can opt out of their current deals in the Summer of 2014, Bosh might be the only realistic name in that group. That’s only because the new luxury tax penalties might force the Heat to let one of their big three go and I don’t think the Lakers would sign Dwyane Wade at 32.

The Summer of 2015 is the one that Lakers fans might want to pay a little more attention to. That’s when Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo will be free agents. That’s also when Steve Nash’s contract expires. Don’t be surprised if the Lakers have already realized this and trade Pau’s expiring deal for someone making less money but with two years left on his deal. That would allow them to save money next season while still having the flexibility to make moves in 2014 and 2015.

If the Lakers have a chance to sign a big name free agent in 2014 and need additional cap space, they can use another asset called the stretch provision that can only be used on players signed under the new CBA. Teams are allowed to stretch the money owed to one player, as well as the cap hit, over twice the amount of years left on the contract plus one year. So the final year and $9.7 million owed to Nash in 2014-15 could be split over three years, freeing up close to $6.5 million in cap space space. The downside is it would keep Nash counting against their cap beyond 2015, when his deal is supposed to expire.

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