The Los Angeles Lakers are in an interesting situation as they’re currently third in the Western Conference with a robust 24-13 record but haven’t played many games at their full strength. However, even at full strength, their roster is far from perfect.
The problem facing the Lakers is that they’re a team operating above the max cap space, so signing or trading for a specific player will require some financial maneuvers. One way to alleviate some of those financial concerns, however, is to go into the luxury tax, which is an extra payment a team must cough up in order to bring on a pricier player.
Los Angeles is no stranger to the luxury tax; it’s why they’ve managed to be successful throughout their illustrious history. But with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic causing financial troubles across the NBA spectrum, navigating money-related tasks become trickier.
Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss discussed the team’s willingness to go over the luxury tax in order to re-sign some of their key players this offseason, via ESPN’s First Take:
It’s difficult with the loss of revenue due to no ticket sales in the arena. We are in a league that is dictated by a salary cap, a collective bargaining agreement so we have to abide by all those rules. But, you know, the luxury tax is for teams that have championship aspirations and certainly that is something that we want to keep the Lakers at the top of the conversation and once LeBron James decided to join the Lakers, the way he’s playing, he doesn’t seem like he’s 36 years old. But when you have a player like LeBron James on your team, you gotta go for it. You gotta use that opportunity to win, so we’ll manage the cap just like every other team in the league has to do. We play by the same rules.
As it stands, Los Angeles is estimated to have a luxury tax bill of about $7 million, according to Spotrac, which is not a lot at all.
Rumors have swirled about who the Lakers could pursue to upgrade their roster; depending on the player, paying more in luxury tax could be involved.
But as Buss stated, you have to put all chips on the line when a player like LeBron James dons your jersey. That could influence who the Lakers opt to make a move for.
Additionally, their free agents this offseason include Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker and potentially Montrezl Harrell, among others. If they are to re-sign all of them, then L.A. could be looking at one of the highest luxury tax penalties in the league.
Lakers remain interested in Rockets’ P.J. Tucker
The Lakers have some holes they could look to fulfill, and one such hole dwells in their wing positions. The wing play between players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wesley Matthews and Talen Horton-Tucker can be described as insufficient.
Though those players could look significantly better at full health and in their usual roles, a bit of consistency wouldn’t hurt. One long-time veteran L.A. is rumored to have interest in is P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets.
Tucker’s 3-point shooting hasn’t been as palatable as previous seasons, but the Rockets aren’t the same team without James Harden. Tucker would be a force defensively as a solid on- and off-ball defender. He could also benefit from the creation of others, like Dennis Schroder, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers want to win now. Tucker is a win-now player.
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