After Metta, Lakers Future Financial Situation Begins Taking Shape

IMG_1212Good news, bad news… and the worst news of all for Lakerdom.

In the bad news, the Lakers went ahead and amnestied Metta World Peace, after all.

In the worst news of all, you don’t get to bash Jim Buss, even if I did it in advance, noting there wasn’t one benefit other than lining their pockets with an additional $15-20 million, on top of their already projected $100 million profit.

Unfortunately, I missed by one important benefit. NBA sources, some Lakers, some from other teams, showed me where I was wrong. Sorry Jimbo.

In good news for Laker fans… or the worst news of all, if not getting to bash Jimbo ruins your day… it’s not a wanton grab for more riches.

You’ve heard buzzing about some crazy plan to offer Kobe Bryant a m-m-m-minimum, one-year deal, as when the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Pincus threw it out two days ago?

However you characterize it, this is the Lakers’ plan, boys and girls.

1)  Having amnestied Metta, they’re now looking at a $77.8 million payroll, within $6M of the $71.9M tax threshold–reachable by dumping Steve Blake’s expiring $4M deal and Jordan’s Hill’s $3.8M by the mid-season trade deadline, if the Lakers think it’s worth it.

This would re-set their clock relative to the repeater penalty, after having paid luxury tax three seasons in a row.

2.) In 2014,they offer Bryant and Pau Gasol one-year deals at, say, $5 million.

No, no one knows if either or both will go along. In any case that leaves the Lakers $52M under the threshold, enough for two max $20 million slots, with another $22 mill to fill out their roster.

In either case, the Lakers don’t exceed the tax threshold. If they got under the season before, doing it twice in a row will enable them to exceed it in the next three without paying penalties. Cap savants–the only ones who understand what’s going on in this !@&%! league with all activity centered around the new CBA–call this the “two in, three out” strategy.

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3) In 2015, assuming Kobe and/or Pau are here, they sign, oh, let’s say three-year deals totaling $25M annually as Nash’s $9.7 million cycles off.

That bumps the payroll to, say $95M–about $20M over the threshold, triggering $45 in taxes. If $135M sounds a tad pricey, the Lakers can afford it and a lot more, projecting an awe-inspiring $280M gross with Time Warner, which started at $115M last season, paying an additional $5M or so annually through 2032.

That leaves the Lakers with a $145M net.

So, subtracting 30% for revenue sharing ($44M) and a generous $30M for all other expenses that leaves a $71M profit with a refurbished roster including two max free agents (the Lakers hope), Kobe (they hope) and Pau (ditto).

So they may not be screwed forever, after all!

If Bryant sounds like he’s upset at the notion he would ever take a massive cut, his remarks at his camp at UCSB were mild for him. Kobe used to be to bargaining what Curtis LeMay, the model for the mad general who launches a nuclear strike at the USSR in “Dr. Strangelove,” was to aviation.

Bryant not only wouldn’t discuss his impending free agency in 2004, he bristled at the Laker PR staff if we asked. He finally started hiring his own publicists, and firing them annually.

So, telling ESPN, “As a businessman the goal is always to not take a pay cut, but….”

Didn’t used to be no buts, but he has long since dispensed with old options like leaving, or retiring.

If winning titles with what’s left here is all that’s left to him, what’s next, musing about playing with LeBron James?

Oh, he just said that wouldn’t be “that big of a stretch,” at UCSB, too?

We’ll never forget you, Metta, however the rest of that went.

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