The Lakers, The Luxury Tax And You

Kurt —  June 18, 2009

LA Lakers at the LA Memorial Coliseum
Now the discussion begins about how we get this feeling again next year.

And we can’t start talking seriously about offseason moves until we have a discussion about the Lakers salary and financial situations — specifically the luxury tax. Sure, there is a soft salary cap in the NBA but that is completely irrelevant in the Lakers case — they are already about $10 million over that number. That limits the free agents from other teams the Lakers can sign — they can only use the mid-level exception (which will be about $5.6 million).

But don’t expect them to use that. The reason is the Luxury Tax — every dollar the Lakers are over that tax threshold number they pay a dollar in tax.

To help with this, I asked a few questions of Hoopsworld writer Eric Pincus (check out his latest post here on “How Amazing Happened”). He’s a long-time Lakers writer with a great understanding of the financial side of the game.

According to Hoopshype — the Lakers have a salary of $74,105,091 on the books for next year. That is not including anything for free agents Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown. We’ll let Eric explain just what that means:

If the tax threshold stays at $71.15 million (the number it was this past season), clearly the Lakers have some issues.

The market hasn’t been set yet but I do believe the Portland Trail Blazers will make Ariza an offer, even if it’s just to drive up the price for the Lakers. Just playing around but let’s say the Lakers get all three guys back for $16 million combined. You can break that up however you’d like . . . it’s a guesstimate and it could be low or high . . . but it’s something to work with.

Without taking into account their draft pick and assuming they stick with DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell (because we need some sort of constant for this illustration), the Lakers total payroll would be $92 million BEFORE tax.

Throw in an extra say $20.9 million (for the tax) and Dr. Buss would be looking at a grand total of $112.9 million!!!

To put that in perspective, the team just won the ring with a payroll including tax at about $85.4 million. It’s a lot to ask of any owner to add on some $27.5 million to the budget, especially in a down economy.

It was rumored mid-season that Buss would go as high as $100 million including tax next year, but Pincus (and others) say the Lakers are now reconsidering that number in the wake of the championship. But realize that the highest pre-tax payroll in the NBA last year was the Knicks — funded by the deep pockets of Cablevision — at $96 million.

All of this begs the big question — can the Lakers sign Ariza and Odom both? Again Pincus.

The big question will be competing offers when it comes to how much for Odom and Ariza. If the bids don’t come – since there are very few teams under the cap (Portland, Detroit, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento Kings and conditionally a few others) – the Lakers would be competing against other teams over the cap. If the most Odom and/or Ariza are offered caps out at the Mid-Level Exception (still not set but currently $5.6 million), the LA is obviously in a better position. I imagine that Ariza will get bigger offers but I’m not sure Lamar will.

Then there is the talk that Kobe could opt out and sign a new Max contract, but in the short term that would be good for the Lakers Pincus notes.

Bryant, as a free agent, can only sign a contract starting at 5% more than he made this year. That’s about a $700k pay-cut (his current contract allows for a higher raise next year). Frankly, I’d expect the Lakers to want Kobe to opt-out and re-sign for a number of reasons . . . primarily longevity but the extra $1.4 million they’d save next year wouldn’t hurt.

In the middle of the year, the Lakers traded Vladimir Radmanovic in a move that was about saving money — an estimated $16 million over several years. Pincus thinks the Lakers could make cost-saving moves.

If the Lakers do end up with a monster payroll, it’s important to remember the tax isn’t computed until the following July. In fact, the Lakers still have opportunity to save money on the 2008/9 tax – if, for instance, they could find a team with a big enough trade exception to take Adam Morrison. The onus will be on General Manager Mitch Kupchak to find suitors for players like Morrison or Sasha Vujacic to trim salary. That’s not an easy task since neither has too much on-court value presently – and Sasha’s deal goes through 2011. It might cost a Jordan Farmar to make one of the bigger deals disappear. That’s a judgment call on the Lakers part since there doesn’t appear to be a long-term solution to replace Derek Fisher as starter on the roster. If Farmar’s that guy, then they don’t move him. If not, do they deal him before getting his replacement? Can that be Brown? Sun?

Another way the Lakers could save money is to trade whoever the do draft at 29. I expect that will be a cost saving move regardless — either a player that can be stashed in Europe for a couple years or someone to trade away. The Lakers will be using the Summer League to find another player or two to fill out the end of the bench cheaply if they can resign both Ariza and Odom.

But right now the ball is in Jerry Buss’ court with how much he wants to spend.

Kurt

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144 responses to The Lakers, The Luxury Tax And You

  1. (From purgatory of last thread.)

    1. Lakersblog has I believe the perfect companion article to Reed’s magnum opus. I love the point about how no one will be like Jordan because of the historical accident of his being The Man when the NBA took off. The Beatles comparison is perfect…

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/06/simers-and-simmons-on-kobes-likability.html

    2. The Onion. “Kobe Bryant Proves He Can Win Championship With Luke Walton On Team”

    I think Luke gets way more facile, naive bashing than anyone on the Lakers, but this is still funny.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/kobe_bryant_proves_he_can_win

    3. Onion on Phil.

    I love Phil and think he gets the second-most ignorant bashing on the Lakers, but this is also funny.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/infograph/phil_jackson

  2. Good post, thanks. I already read some of the money stuff so knew some of this. My guess is that the Lakers overpay to keep Ariza, but Odom will wind up leaving–unless no one offers him more than than the MLE. But I agree about Portland’s offering Ariza big $ (remember who owns the Blazers
    –Paul Allen can spend luxury tax money easily if he so chooses) and I think we need to keep our eye on the Ben Wallace buy-out situation in Cleveland. The Cavs need to go all-out next year, both to try to to keep LeBron and to try to win before he can walk away to Brooklyn or NYC.

    I actually hope that the rumored Shaq-to-Cleveland trade occurs, in that while I respect Shaq immensely, I do not think he is the answer in Cleveland. I think they need length and athleticism
    –IOW, Trevor Ariza or Lamar Odom.

  3. I love LO, but Trevor is a must. Hopefully we can keep both and really make a run at this thing again. Losing LO will just mean that Bynum will have to return to form and stay healthy. If he can do that then we can afford to lose LO.

    However, I would REALLY like to keep them both if at all possible.

    Come on Jerry, dig deep!

  4. I think Mitch is crafty enough to figure out a way for this work, assuming Buss is willing to shell out some cash.

    As everyone else has said, Ariza is a must at this point. However, I think Odom is right there in the “must” category. We’ve said all year he is our glue guy, I’m not sure that this championship experience changes that.

  5. Robinred, if I were Cleveland, I’d try to find a way to get Rasheed Wallace. He is what they need, a solid interior defender but also someone who will not clog the lane when LBJ drives. With Shaq, the help defender is right there and he makes it a lot easier to pack the paint on Cleveland. Sheed, like Pau, will make you pay if you pack it in. The problem is the Cavs have about the same tax problems as the Lakers, so to get Sheed he would have to take the MLE or you’d have to offer something so good to Detroit they would do a sign and trade.

  6. The ONLY thing bad about winning a Championship is how hard it is to say goodbye to the players involved.

  7. I can’t see Portland – with Batum and Outlaw already locked up at the 3 next year for a combined $5.1M – offering big money to Ariza. What basketball sense does that make? And why would Ariza want to go somewhere where he’d be fighting for minutes all over again? It’s not like he has flourished in a non-triangle system.

    Portland also has to worry about locking up Roy and Aldridge, both of whom are nearing the end of their rookie deals and are going to want max or near-max contracts.

  8. It’s interesting to note in hindsight that signing Sasha for ~5 million was a big mistake. That right there (*2 for luxury tax) just about accounts for the difference in the 113 Pincus uses in his example and the hypothetical 100 threshold Buss would rather not cross.

    I think a best case scenario might be resigning TA, LO and Wow conditional on (1) the hope that Sasha or Morrison can play well enough early in the next season that they can be traded before the trade deadline (high risk this won’t pan out), and (2) the hope that Buss has faith that Mitch can find creative ways to dump salary (moderate risk this won’t pan out).

    As much as I love Lamar, I have a hard time seeing any of the teams under the cap offering more than about 6-7 per year for him, and even that seems like a stretch. If you offer him a contract at this point, you have to know what you’re going to get: inconsistency. That’s fine for the Lakers, because I think the team has come to terms with LO being a bit bi-polar out on the court. He seems to make up for it by being a great teammate, a glue guy, and someone who has recently demonstrated the ability to step up in big games. But for another team, LO could be a recipe for disaster.

    I think we might have to worry more about a big offer for Ariza, because he has a bigger upside at this point. I might worry about Detroit more along these lines if they end up trading Prince.

    Does anyone else feel pretty strongly that it’s time to part ways with Jordan? The way I see it is that he is cleary too erratic and undisciplined to be a starter, and his bad attitude does him no favors. More to the point, even if he improves a lot next season, seems to me we wouldn’t be able to afford him. While there may be no market for Sasha and Adam, I suspect plenty of teams would be willing to take a chance on Jordan, in the last year of a reasonably priced contract.

  9. In response to that comment, TJ Simmers goes on about how we should get our priorities straight. We should worry about Iran, and celebrate the real heroes. In other words, we should do more useful things with our time.

    The guy is a freakin’ SPORTSWRITER for god’s sake. Surely, there are more noble endeavors.

    And in response to the post, can someone explain to me why guaranteed contracts exist in the nba the way they do? In this case for instance, the Lakers should be allowed to just cut Adam Morrison. He should be content with what he has already earned as a non factor.

  10. Quick question on the trade exception. If you have cap room you can trade for a player with out giving up the equal salary in return (what the Clippers did last year to acquire Camby). Does this rule only apply to teams under the salary cap? Or can you use some of the MLE to acquire a player with a trade exception?

    I’m asking because I wanted to know if the Lakers to trade whomever they pick at 29 to any team that wanted it and get a trade exception as part of said teams MLE to cover the contract price without getting any contracts in return. My guess is that only teams with cap space can trade for a team using a trade exception, but I did not know for sure.

    There is also a rumor that Detroit is interested in Ariza as the Blazers.

  11. Kurt @ 5…in a recent chat on espn with Chad Ford, he said he expects the Cavs to try and get both Shaq and Rasheed. Take it for what its worth, but I guess they could do it if Gilbert is willing to spend money. Now concerning our Lakers, I have a question regarding the trading of draft picks. When we got Pau we traded the 2008 and 2010 first round picks, because NBA rules dictate you can’t trade them back to back. My question is if this is true how could we trade our pick at 29 this year? Or is that rule just for the same trade? I’ve been confused about this so the clarification is highly appreciated.

  12. Let’s try to keep the Simers/Simmons stuff in the previous thread.

    As for why there are guaranteed contracts in the NBA — because the players union has the power to get them. In Morrison’s case, he was drafted top five overall (I think) and is in the fourth year of a deal and will make $5 mil. The league and Union made a deal in the CBA that rookie salaries would be on a low scale and fixed to avoid public holdouts and negotiations for rookies like you see in the NFL. The logic is a guy who has yet to play in the NBA should not get a deal that much bigger than a name vet.

  13. Memo to Dr. Buss: You can’t take it with you.

  14. Question about Morrison:

    Hoopshype has his salary for 2010/11 listed in green (for qualifying offer). Is that $6.8M guaranteed to him, or does his contract for all intents and purposes expire next summer?

  15. 10. Ryan — the Lakers cannot trade the pick itself. The NBA does not permit you to trade your first round pick in consecutive years and the Lakers 2010 (and 2008) first rounders were part of the Gasol trade. So if they draft a college player they either have to sign him or trade the player to another team for whoever.

    There are two things at play that could depress the free agent market this year. One is the economy, and a lot of owners not wanting to take on salary. The other is the free agent class of 2010 — if you think LeBron/Wade et al will bolt, and that you have a shot, then you don’t add a lot of free agents this year. You need the cap room. Detroit could play into that.

  16. Everyone is talking about Portland trying to sign Ariza. Does no one remember the venom spewing out of Portland when Ariza “took out” Rudy Fernandez? No way Trevor goes there. It would hilarious if the Blazers even attempted to sign Ariza, after all the crap they spewed about how Ariza is a dirty player and doesn’t belong in the NBA. Frankly it’s all just the Blazers management posturing and trying to interfere with other people’s free agents.

    After the @Cleveland game in February, there was a big post devoted to Lamar Odom and his contribution to the team. Some say that signing Ariza is more important than signing Odom for on-court reasons (which I think are dubious to begin with), but Odom’s real value comes in the locker room. He is easily the best-liked Laker, and he holds our team together with his positive energy and optimism (as well as his candy).

    Ammo’s expiring being exchanged for a trade exception is a great idea. That’ll save 12 mil in total costs, which takes us down to around 100 mil. Also, trading Vujacic will be next to impossible. His contract is too wealthy and too long for anyone in this economic environment, and his on-court production does not justify it. Yet, I think Sasha deserves a second chance. He had an off-year, but all of us who followed the Lakers know that Vujacic’s work ethic is fanatical. If anyone will work extra hard on his game this summer, it will be Sasha.

  17. 13, Joel, Ammo will be a restricted free agent. Whoever owns him at that time can simply choose not to match any offers.

  18. If Bynum is going to be healthy, Odom is a luxury. If not, he is a necessity. I think the decision on Odom will be based on the confidence level the team has on the likelihood of Bynum having another injury. (after 3 major ones in 5 seasons.) Based on his performance in the regular season, I had hopes for Powell as a possibility to be a primary backup PF/C, but he didn’t do very well in the playoffs (albeit in very limited minutes) so I don’t think he should be counted on to play a major role.
    Is Brown ready to play 20-25 mpg as Fisher’s backup? I’m not sure about that yet, so I would not be too quick to trade Farmar.

  19. 16. Zephid. Tomorrow is another Odom post from Darius. I just wanted to get the financial stuff out first because you need a base to start these discussions with.

  20. Thank you for clearing that up, Zephid.

    Also, the point you raised about Ariza is the same thing that flashed through my mind when I read about Portland supposedly offering him a big contract.

  21. Last summer I was upset about not resigning Turiaf and I was happy when they resigned Sasha … What a difference a year makes.

    Kobe has some leverage in that Dr. Buss will want to keep him happy, and this involves not losing Lamar or Trevor.

    Portland would, as pointed out, only make Trevor an offer to drive up the price for the Lakers. Also, though, Portland hopes to use the expiring LaFrentz contract to get a Pau Gasol type steal from a team looking to unload salary, so they do need to be careful how they play that game.

    Isn’t Detroit trying to clear cap space for the 2010 free agent class? They already have Prince at small foward.

    The Sasha and Luke Walton contracts, in retrospect, turn out to be dead weight, given the amounts involved.

  22. 18

    I don’t see Odom as a luxury either way. Bynum or no Bynum, you don’t want to be defending a championship with Josh Powell or DJ Mbenga as your third big. Also, Odom’s ability to guard more mobile PFs (Nowitzki, Lewis, West, etc) would be crucial come playoff time.

  23. The Lakers need a bit of luck to get both Odom and Ariza signed. If they don’t get that luck I honestly thing think we would get more bang for the buck with Odom.

    Ariza is great and was instrumental in us winning a championship, but his shooting isn’t really as good as it seemed in the playoffs. He will come back to earth and will be a player worth 4-5 mil.

    Sasha got his contract for his shooting last year in the playoffs, I’m afraid the same is happening with Ariza. He is improved….but not that improved.

  24. “Also, the point you raised about Ariza is the same thing that flashed through my mind when I read about Portland supposedly offering him a big contract.”

    Maybe, but this is a business. Also, I don’t think Ariza will SIGN w/Portland–but I do think they will try to jack up the price. And basketball-sense-wise, I think he is better than Outlaw and Batum. His value is at an all-time high
    –I do not think he is going to come cheap.

    WRT Rasheed: That is a good idea, but he is aging. One of Cleveland’s problems was too much age up front. I think they really need some younger legs/athleticism, as noted.

  25. Portland would get over the “dirty player” thing real quick if it felt he could help them win. The ire fans and talk show hosts stir up doesn’t equate to the locker room or front office.

    So while that Fernandez issue won’t be a hurdle for the Blazers chasing Trevor, let’s not just assume that he’s headed north on I-5 just yet.

    As others noted, he’s struggled in other systems and Portland has some skilled guys who’d fight for time on the floor. Trevor’s smart and could see those issues, so unless the Blazers just throw crazy money his way, I just don’t see him picking Portland over L.A.

    The down market has more potential to drive down LO’s value, which works in the Lakers’ favor.

    The one guy I think we’re most likely to lose is Shannon. Some team will overpay him based on his playoff success, overlooking his past history and the fact that the Lakers gave him a very defined role in which to thrive.

    His situation reminds me of Ty Lue: he had some OK floor time in high profile games in 2001, including some decent (but overhyped) play vs. AI in the Finals. So the Wizards threw $3.1 million his way and off he went, never to be relevant again. I envision the same for Shannon.

    Given the other money issues, the Lakers can’t afford to pay big money to three PGs, and unless Farmar is a piece of some deal to make the team better my opinion is he’s the one the Lakers should keep for the future. Remember, he played very well before that knee injury. I still like his upside.

  26. I don’t see Odom as a luxury either, regardless of Bynums health. Right now the Lakers have the best front court in the NBA. We have size and shock blocking from Bynum; we have verstility (both defensively and a little offensively) and rebounding with Odom and a top 5 big man in the NBA in Gasol who does everything on the court. You don’t just trade that away. My guess is that Odom is the priority if they had to choose between the two (unless he is offered a ridiculous contract) and an athletic wing is picked up via other means.

  27. I don’t remeber the specifics, but didn’t Magic restructure his contract in his later years to help the team secure Terry Teagle?!?

    I don’t know but could Kobe even do this today?

  28. I think at worst, only one resigns. The question is with all things being equal (and I know they’re not), which one is better for the team to keep. We know what each one brings to the table, so we don’t have to get into that, but as far as how our team will look next season.

    A) Keeping Ariza: He’s a starter, so needles to say, the starting lineup will be intact. We can be comfortable with this, especialy since we all expect Trevor and Drew to improve next year. However, our already up and down bench will be losing its best player. This scares me personally. Also, we had the luxury this year of always having 2 out of our 3 bigs on the floor (LO, Pau, and Drew). It will completely change our rotations without LO there, and what will that mean for our other bigs.

    Keeping LO: We were all excited before this season about the prospect of having a 3-headed-monster in the middle. Perhaps, that is something Phil will look to explore next year, w/o another suitable wing. Another option will be to move Luke into the starting line up (not Trevor, but ok) Lets not forget he started a bunch of games this season, and Trevor was coming off the bench till late in the year. With this we still have the same rotation with ou bigs as we did this year, and keeps our bench intact.

    When I look at A vs B, I’m liking B much more.

  29. 27 – Buttas
    He can do it in the sense that he has the option to opt out of his contract this year. So if he opts out he can resign for a smaller contract (don’t count on this) and thus make it easier for the Lakers to resign their own free-agents.

    Normally if Kobe didn’t have the opt out ability this year he wouldn’t be able to ‘restructure’ his contract.

  30. Thanks Brian (29) for that. I don’t expect Kobe to actually take less, but wouldn’t that be the ultimate “team” guy thing to do. Wouldn’t that silence the critics once and for all?

    One can dream right?

  31. Off topic, but why have people like Simmons (early in the Finals) and Stein (on ESPN.com) continutally said the Lakers were favored vs. Boston last season in the Finals?

    Boston had the better record in the regular season, and beat L.A. twice. Yet these guys keep saying Kobe’s “favored” teams had lost in their past two Finals prior to this year. Hearts aside, who thought L.A. had the better odds in last year’s Finals?

    Am I missing something, like Joel Meyers not knowing that Magin won five rings, not four as he said at the rally yesterday?

  32. 24, robinred, I don’t see how they can jack up Ariza’s price when he would be crazy to even consider going there. The people wanted to throw him out of the league; why would he go play for their team? There’s something to be said for playing in front of fans who desired nothing but harm on you.

    25, Chris J, I don’t think anyone is going to spend money on a back-up point guard who won’t be an impact player immediately. No way someone will throw multi-millions at Brown, not in this economy. He’ll be lucky to get a 2-3 yr, 3-4 mil deal.

  33. 31

    After the way Boston and LA played en route to the Finals, I don’t think it’s stretching things to say that the Lakers were favoured. I certainly remember most if not all of ESPN’s ‘experts’ picking the Lakers to win the series.

  34. The Lakers were picked in the 2008 finals by the MSM for the same reason so many people picked Denver to win the WCF and Cleveland to win the NBA title after the Atlanta series: overreaction to previous series and not paying enough attention to matchups. I am not usually very good at predictions, but I did (ugh) pick the Celtics before the finals last year and had the Lakers in every series this year.

  35. Zephid… I don’t disagree with you, but even a 2-3 year deal at $4 million total would be overpaying him, in my view.

    My point was that the Lakers’ focus will be on finding dollars for No. 3 and No. 7. If that means Shannon walks for a $1 million more elsewhere, so be it.

  36. Are there any good free agent, MLE-level, options for a point guard for the future? If so, the ability to sign one is a possible fringe benefit to not signing Odom or Ariza.

    Everybody WANTS to have Odom and Ariza back; the question is what is realistic for the team, within the context of it’s budget. Within those limitations, if the team is a serious contender with only one of those two, then the other is a luxury, not a necessity.

  37. @32,

    As i said, I think Ariza is staying here. But if Portland, Detroit or Cleveland offers 8-9M and the Lakers are offering 5-6 or the MLE, then, well, I think you have to asume that will probably affect the negotiations.

  38. Chris J @ 31

    Boston struggled in the playoffs, going 7 against ATL & CLE and 6 against DET (the Pistons were in the conf finals last year…wow! A year IS a long time!!). The Lakers blew through Denver in 4, handled UTA and closed out SA in 5. I think the thought was that the Lakers would run all over the Celtics…struggle proved to be the winning formula for Boston. That’s in the past though.

    The LAKERS are the champs now.

  39. I don’t know if the Lakers were favored in Vegas to win last year, but I do recall most of the ESPN “experts” picking the Lakers to win, which as Joel noted was likely due to how the two teams had looked while making the Finals.

    Going back to Ariza/Portland for a sec – I like Ariza, but I don’t know that he’s *that* much better than Outlaw, especially if I’m Portland’s GM. Outlaw is already on the books for $4M, he’s been in the system for a couple of years, and he knows the other players. Is Portland going to throw twice as much money as that to Ariza? He’s not twice the player.

    As for Dr. Buss – let’s not forget that the Lakers reportedly pocketed an extra $48M or so for the 12 home playoff games this season, and a similar but slightly less amount for the 11 home playoff games last year. That has to take the sting off of a big luxury tax payment somewhat. He has always spent whatever it took in the past, and I expect him to do so again.

  40. “assume”

    I may be wrong, but I do not think a team like Sac, Mem or OKC will offer big money for Ariza. I think if that happens, it will be a contender, looking to hurt the Lakers while simultaneously upgrading, or Detroit, looking to position themsleves for another quick rebuild and seeing Ariza as one piece of the new puzzle.

  41. I don’t think anyone offers Ariza that much more than the midlevel. Teams currently under the cap either want a big splash in the current offseason or are going to save all their chips for 2010. Ariza has a lot of upside but he does two big things right now: 1) defends well 2) hits threes. That sounds like a role player on a contender, all of which are over the cap and can offer the midlevel at most. Unless someone horribly overpays him, Ariza is coming back. I also don’t believe Portland is going to make a big offer to Ariza, but for different reasons than Zephid is pointing out. They’re already banking on Batum’s development and have Webster coming back from injury. Outlaw might stay as well. Pritchard wants a major upgrade on the wing; Ariza isn’t better than Outlaw or Webster really.

    As for LO, the factor working in our favor is simply a lack of interest among teams with enough space to make a serious offer. To outbid the Lakers, someone (Memphis, OKC, etc.) would have to make a $9-10 million multiyear offer. That’s a lot of money for a versatile PF that isn’t good enough to bring a rebuilding team back to respectability. LO’s statements that he would take a hometown discount are pretty relevant as well. I’d wager he comes back for 3-year, $21-25 million deal.

    As far as cutting costs go, Morrison is obviously our biggest asset, but the major issue is Sasha’s contract. Sending Sasha somewhere would require a package with significant assets (Morrison’s expiring, perhaps Farmar as well). The big problem is that no one is really willing to take on salary like Sasha’s in the current environment; ergo, taking at least one equally bad or worse salary in return is the most likely scenario. The only way trading Sasha would benefit us is taking a decent player who is on a long contract currently. So, say hypothetically (not to say that we should do this; just using this as an example, so please don’t delete this Kurt) we trade Farmar, Sasha, and Morrison for Hinrich, who would be an upgrade at the point and can also play the two in a pinch. We’d then either resign Shannon for the minimum and/or draft a backup two guard (Ellington, Meeks, Thorton). My main point is that unless we’re willing to take salary back, we’re not going to be able to trade Sasha very easily in the current environment, given how poorly he played last season.

  42. 36

    “if the team is a serious contender with only one of those two, then the other is a luxury, not a necessity”

    Well that’s the bottom line: comparatively speaking, I see Odom as a necessity and Ariza as more of a luxury.

  43. @41

    I agree to a point, but Ariza provides athleticism, is several years younger, and has much less mileage.

  44. this just in from the hollinger chat:

    question: is kobe top 10 all-time now?

    hollingers answer:
    “All-time? It’s still a tough list to crack. For instance, just looking at contemporaries — Shaq cleary outranks him, and you still have to rank Tim Duncan ahead of him too (four championships, top dog for all four, won without another All-Star in ’03); it’s really a battle for third with him and Garnett. Then you get into all the old-timers and the list fills up awfully fast. I’m comfortable with top 15, but top 10 is really crowded and I’m not sure he’s in yet, or if he’ll ever be.”

    so kobe is in a battle with GARNETT?!? a guy who couldnt get out of the first round for like 1000 years?!? a guy who needed 2 other allstars to get his first title and still has 3 to go to catch kobe?!?

    wow… i think simmons is doing the chat for hollinger today…

  45. While I’m extremely appreciative of Ariza’s contributions this playoff year, one thing that sticks out in mind is matchups. Matchups are why Houston gave LA so many problems and why we gave Orlando a ton of problems. Odom is a matchup problem for most teams in the league. And the combo of Bynum, Gasol and Odom presents multiple problems. What happens if Bynum doesn’t progress as we hope?

    While wily inconsistent, I would choose Odom over Ariza if I had to make a decision.

    But I hope the Lakers can keep both.

  46. Agree with those who realize Portland fans would forgive Trevor in a heartbeat or less if they think he can help the Blazers. That goes triple-double for the Portland front office.

    This effect is enhanced by the hatred Oregonians like to profess for all things California, nevermind that 80% of them seem to be from the golden state.

  47. Chris – You got to remember that by making the Lakers the “front-runners” guys like Simmons ignore certain facts that diminish the “greatness” of their team’s title such as (1) last year’s Laker team was expected to be a lottery team or an 8th seed at the most, (2) Paul Gasol did not have a complete season to train and play with his teammates, (3) Ariza was a mid-season acquisition and was maybe at 50% during the finals, and (4) even a hobbled Bynum has a foot of height (and reach) over Porkins and Big Baby.

    This is also why Simmons labeled game 4 last year as a “Laker Choke” while at the same time labeling it “a great Celtic comeback”, and yet for game 5 of the Finals he openly debates whether it is one or the other – but certainly not both.

  48. As I understand the situation, I don’t agree that Kobe should be expected to take less money. Essentially, it’s a choice between asking Kobe to make less money next year, or asking Jerry Buss / Lakers ownership to do so. We aren’t limited structurally in terms of what we can offer Odom and Ariza – this isn’t a hard cap league, as has been discussed. It’s just a question of luxury tax, which comes out of the owners’ pockets.

    If you’re Kobe, you’re looking at an ownership group including Jerry Buss and Philip Anschutz (who owns, what, 30%?). I don’t know exactly how the luxury tax comes out of their respective pockets, but Buss is worth hundreds of millions and Anschutz billions. Why should Kobe be asked to reach into his pockets, when the alternative is them reaching into theirs?

    Obviously the sums of money we’re talking about here are so ridiculously high on all sides that all of the above could stop making money today and still live ridiculously for the rest of their careers, Kobe included. In that regard, sure, Kobe could take less if that’s what it takes to win a title. But when ownership (who gain as much or more from a title as Kobe) are equally able to “take less” to help ensure a title, I can hardly blame Kobe if he balks.

  49. Why are we assuming that Kobe cant take less? Didn’t Duncan opt out and renegotiate a his deal to do the same? Didn’t Garnett? Can someone clarify because I don’t understand why we are assuming that he cant take less.

  50. http://www.cnbc.com/id/31410191

    Does Buss profit from merchandise sales?

  51. I don’t agree with asking Kobe to take less money because he is probably the player that brings in the MOST revenue for the Lakers.

  52. i think that it would be a mistake to try to get rid of sasha´s contract if it would mean giving up a nice asset. lets not forget that he was a very nice backup last year, and that although he lost his touch this year, he still plays with passion and defends quite well. we wont be able to get anything good in return anyway.

    i feel very good about our chances to keep our key-guys. having a defined role (odom, ariza, brown) + playing for the championship + playing in a GREAT city should help them accept a smaller offer.

    also, living in hollywood definetly helps making money without playing basketball (wondering how much lamar got for his small part in entourage…?). since they cant play basketball forever, im sure thats something they take into account aswell.

  53. #50 – Yes, Buss profits from merchandise sales. But so do the players, the NBA, the players union. Etc. Everyone gets a cut.

  54. I believe, because of the over 36 rule, the maxiimum number of years that Kobe can sign for, if he opts out, is 5 years because he will be 31 by the start of next season. Also, the 10.5% raise is fixed over the life of the contract based on the first year and not compounded each year. So the approximate maximum contract is as follows:
    09-10 22.3 million (5% over his 08-09)
    10-11 24.65
    11-12 27.00
    12-13 29.35
    13-14 31.6

    Total: ~ 134.9 million over 5 years.

    Hopefully, Kobe will agree to a starting salary of around 20 mil so they can sign both Odom and Ariza.

  55. I look at this as whose skillset is harder to replace? Is Ariza or Odom harder to replicate via another player that might be had for the MLE?

    I love both. They both bust their butts every game, and generate tons of matchup problems. No way we would have won the title this year missing either one.

    That being said, I think that Ariza is “easier” to replace at an MLE talent-level than LO is. 6’10” player that can play 5 positions, could start for 3/4 of the teams in the league and is willing to come off of the bench, I’m not sure where you find a replacement for that.

  56. I really doubt Kobe takes less money – who has done that? But I could see him signing the longer-term deal to save the cap room in the immediate future.

    I love Trevor, and he came up huge, but LO is one of a kind. He is inconsistent, but his role is indispensable. Even with a healthy Bynum, right now, the Laker bench is just not that strong.

    There are athletic wings in the league who can shoot 3s. Shannon Brown isn’t as big as Trevor but he basically does that. But how often do you have a Lamar Odom?

    Obviously, let’s hope they figure out a way to keep both. But if I had to choose one, I might choose LO, as painful as it would be to lose Ariza.

  57. If LO gets offered a large deal and decides to leave we should quickly try to sign Rasheed for a cheap contract. Id rather have LO but if we cant have him he’s a good big to have come off the bench. I hate his uninterested style of play because hes capable of so much more, but hes an upgrade over Powell and Mbenga anyday and he wouldnt be too expensive. We would lose alot of versatility and a ball handler to initiate the offense but maybe we can do without it and we’d gain another Big body but Pau wud be forced to guard the Rashard Lewis’ and Dirks.

  58. If I had to choose, I would choose Lamar. Lamar is needed to guard perimeter-oriented bigs. Would you have been comfortable with Pau guarding Rashard down the stretch? Also, I don’t trust Bynum’s health or productivity.

    Trevor is still raw enough that I can’t see someone paying Trevor star money $8-9 million a year. I see Trevor as getting Posey midlevel $. As much as I loved Trevor’s playoff surges, we can’t expect Trevor to shoot 40%+ 3 pointers every playoff.

    Lamar I could see getting $8-9 million but I think he stays if the Lakers are within $2 million/year.

  59. I dont think losing Ariza is an option. Hes shown that hes willing to work to improve. His athleticism gives him unlimited potential and with Kobe schooling him who knows how good he will become. I know people are thinking that his 3pt shooting will come down to earth next season and he might not earn his contract but he’s not Sasha. Sasha’s only strength was his 3pt shooting and his ‘pesky’ defense. Ariza is a superior athlete, defender, slasher and can even rebound. He gives our defense versatility because he has the quickness to switch onto Pg’s 2guards and 3’s and even perimeter 4’s. He can earn his money without being a GREAT 3pt shooter. If he can just keep the defense honest his signing will have been a success.

  60. Fisher-Kobe-Walton-Odom-Gasol is a tested and proven recipe for getting us to the finals.

    Fisher-Kobe-Ariza-Gasol-Bynum, while more alluring on paper, is not.

    I’d hate, hate, hate to choose between Odom and Ariza, but ultimately that Gasol-Odom combo down low has worked time and time again. It’s too much length, skill, and quickness for almost every front line in the league. If someone throws an above midlevel offer at Ariza and we can lock down Odom for something reasonable ($6-7 per), then I say take Odom and try to address PG.

    Who knows though. Such a brutal call. I just know that Odom has been indispensable to two deep and magical playoff runs.

  61. I take it all back. I’d be crestfallen if Ariza left. Part of me would die. Some of the parade donors should start a donation for our free agents.

  62. Jerry’s dream is to have more titles than the celtics and this group has the potential to do it. He’s not getting any younger he might not get another championship calibre team. He owes it to himself no matter the cost. He’s one of the greatest if not the greatest owner in pro sports with 10 championships. Hope he puts up the money.

  63. I’ll just lend my voice to those who are saying Ariza is fantastic and I hope we can keep him, but if it comes to a choice I think LO is the piece we have to keep. He is Bynum insurance both against injury and foul trouble. He clicks well with Gasol. He is the light to Kobe’s dark. He can run the bench mob. When you have a dude that good coming off your bench it moves the team from good to great.

    Bottom line, if we can keep both and the team stays healthy, it is hard not to envision another parade.

  64. em-k and other are right on about Odom (and hopefully Darius’ post tomorrow echos this) but Odom is the more valuable asset.

    Asset valuation corresponds directly with scarcity/fungibility and production. Odom’s production outperforms Ariza’s both statistically and intrinsically (locker room presence and versatility). Additionally, you can count the league’s verstatile big men on one hand. Defensive, athletic wingmen (similar to Ariza) are to be found in every draft (and we have some suitable potential substitutes already on our bench/payroll).

    In short, if heaven forbid we have to choose between Ariza and LO, think about how we replace the one we lose, and think of the effect of that loss. It’s not even close (although I love Ariza)–gotta keep Odom.

    As for the upside argument, the Laker’s window isn’t as long as we think it is–we’re looking at as few as 3-5 more years of world-best Kobe–investing in the long term is seconday to winning now.

  65. Coffee is For Closers June 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I ulitmately think, if Buss looks at this purely from an economic perspective, the decision is this:

    What’s the difference in revenue generated from a championship run vs. probably best case scenario of reaching the WCF. I think if they lose one or both, you’re probably missing a key ingredient that gets you back to the finals. I’d be curious in the difference in revenue earned by the Lakers over the last 2 years vs the 2 before it.

    Even though a $100M payroll, seems outrageous, it may actually make sense economically if that spending generates accompanying revenue. Look at the yankees. They have a ridiculous payroll, but they also have ridiculous broadcasting revenues, licensing and gate revenues that make their spending palatable from a business perspective.

  66. The main arguments seem to be that Ariza is consistent and improved whereas LO is the same old LO. I beg to differ. If we look at theplayoffs LO has improved in the sense that he has played with confidence, assertion, and a measure of consistent effort even if he didn’t score. LO’s shooting improved just as much as Ariza’s. While Ariza certainly shows tremendous potential, I can’t justify putting a dollar amount on that while with LO we know what we’ve going to get. He is a proven and integral piece of our finals runs. Especially in today’s NBA where frontcourt depth is such a huge advantage.

  67. In my mind there is no question that LO is more valuable and more difficult to replace. Sparky hit the nail on the head in #64 – several athletic swingmen like Ariza are available in every draft. Players like LO are not. Kudos to Trevor for working so hard and imprving his shooting, but he’s not as valuable to this team as LO is.

  68. Odom is a more unusual and less common type of player; that is clear. Odom is arguably a unique player. But I think if you weigh Ariza’s other advantages, it becomes a very tough call, and I do not think Ariza would be easy to replace. I would encourage people talking about that to recall the team’s wing D with Walton and VladRad at the 3.

    I am 99% sure Phil would prefer to keep Odom if he had to choose, but the Lakers need to think about a three-year window and about the fact that while Kobe’s calendar age will be 31 when the ball goes up next year, an argument can be made that his basketball age is about 34. That could be used to argue for picking either Odom or Ariza, should it come to that.

    An interesting and related question is how Bynum and Gasol can be made more productive in tandem (including all obvious caveats about Bynum’s knees). I have been talking about this for months, and while the team won the title without it occurring, it is crucial issue over the next two years and will be come more so should Odom leave.

    And I hope the people who don’t see a team or two making a big-money play for Ariza are correct. I myself am unconvinced.

  69. The Dude Abides June 18, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I think Jerry and Mitch will find a way to keep both Trevor and LO. If I were forced to make “Sophie’s Choice,” both my heart and my head vote to keep LO, while only my heart votes to keep Trevor. But I really, really, really hope we keep both guys. Kobe, please opt out, extend your deal, and take a small salary cut for the first year!

  70. I, too, think that both LO and Ariza stay. I’ve said it a bunch of times already, so it must be true, right?

    If I’m Portland, if I’m going to throw a bunch of cash at someone to play the 3, I want someone who is clearly better than what I have, who can do different things than what I already have. That player is not Ariza – both Batum and Outlaw are long, athletic wings who can defend. Granted, Batum can’t shoot much, and Outlaw is a very streaky shooter, but I don’t think we can definitively say that Ariza is a better shooter. He had a great playoffs from downtown, but he hasn’t shown he can hit a mid-range yet.

    If I’m Portland, the player I’m throwing a bunch of money at is Hedo. He’s clearly a better shooter than either of my two options at the 3 – he can take players off the dribble. He can initiate an offense and get other players shots. He gives you things that your other options do not.

  71. I love Ariza, but I am guessing many people said we “needed” to keep Sasha after last year’s run too. The bottom line is that it is easier to find a swingman who can play some D and hits threes than to find, well, Lamar Odom.

    Of course, none of that really matters. The market for players will decide what happens. I think our best hope is the one outlined above: Buss tries to keep everyone and lets Kupchak dump salary during the year.

    Ex. Ammo’s contract. Lets say he makes 5 mil next year. If Lakers trade him in the middle of the year, the team taking him will only be responsible for the 2.5 mil left. The Lakers can throw in up to 3 million in cash so that the team does not have to pay (or picks, or right to swap second round picks, whatever). The Lakers still pay Ammo 5 mil, but, by getting him off the cap, the Lakers will save the 5 million luxury tax . The team that takes Ammo maybe earns 500,000 or a pick, and has all the incentive to make a deal.

    As for trades, normally I’d say no chance that anyone takes Luke or Sasha’s contract, but then Id probably say Luke > Sasha > VladRad, so you never know.

  72. I also hope it doesn’t become an either or question. A lot of arguments have already been made, but I want to throw one more thought out there regarding what Odom and Ariza bring to the team. I mean, we’ve all seen what they have done, but I’m thinking about what role they play in the team dynamic.

    At the risk of oversimplyfying, and talking about offense now, if I had to attach one atribute to Ariza, it’d be “finisher”. For Odom, “playmaker”. What I mean by this is the following: save for stuff like the one three on a broken play in the Finals or the occasional floater after deciding against a three, Trevor to me is the kind of guy that finishes plays, rather than creating them. Hit him in stride on the break, deliver him the ball when he has set his feet for a three.

    Contrast that with Lamar, who more often then not is a guy who instigates, who makes plays for others or sometimes himself (with improving but certainly not perfect decision making). This is not only on his own baskets, simple things like great entry passes to Gasol are also among these plays (Odom was most efficient in getting Pau the ball in my opinion). He’s a guy who can force an opposing defense to lose their balance, which a Rashard Lewis or Delonte West do to a much lesser degree.

    The luxury that we have on offense is that we probably have had at least two playmakers on the court at all times – Kobe/Pau, Kobe/Odom, Gasol/Odom. I’m not sure I should include Fisher here, even if game 4 is a strong argument against me. But let’s keep the sample size bigger and put him and Bynmu in the “finisher” category as well. Even with the Shaq/Kobe teams, you mostly had those two as facilitators and the rest of the team as a bunch of guys ready to complete plays, which Glen Rice didn’t particularly like.

    Anyway, I say this is a huge plus for the current Laker team and a big reason for their effectivity on offense. Contrast that with Orlando or Cleveland, who had Turkoglu and LeBron as the guys you could count on to create, Howard and Mo Williams for some of the time.

    I don’t really want to use this argument to tip the scale in either the Ariza or Odom direction because they both are deear to my heart. But putting a gun to my head, I’d say it’s easier to find a good finisher than a good playmaker.

    This argument doesn’t take into account the age difference or potential salary. Also, an easy counter argument is that Ariza is definitely a playmaker on defense as evidenced by the steals against Denver. But one could also say that Odom’s help defense and rebounding is similarly important as Ariza’s pressure D and ability to steal.

    All in all, I’m really confused about this, I hope the main part of my argument made some sense.

  73. One question I have throughout these discussions is what exactly will Lamar’s role be going forward? If Kobe’s the head of the team, we all know Lamar’s the heart – this is virtually undisputed and will most likely remain so if we resign him. However, if we resign him to a longer deal, is it so he can continue to come off the bench as the 6th man to replace Bynum? Are we going to keep last year’s late-game rotation the same where it’s Lamar, and not Bynum, out there closing games? At some point, if Bynum’s game grows at the extrapolated rate, it’s going to conflict with Lamar’s if last year’s substitution patterns remain the same.

    Unless the solution is the PG-kobe-lamar-pau-drew lineup which seems like it would crowd the court excessively (I have a sinking feeling Lamar’s 50+% 3-pt fg% these playoffs will be unrepeatable in the future).

    Or do you maybe just worry about getting him back in the fold first, and think about how to use him later? is that putting the cart before the horse?

  74. Just thinking about the Finals again I noticed one deciding factor that is totally unrelated to this discussion:

    Magic free throws, games 1through 5: 96-139, 69%.

    That is excellent free throw defense right there! Maybe even one of the best ever…

  75. question for you all:
    can a team “fire” a player for poor performance?
    what of Sasha continues his goose egg shooting for half a season? can we just pay him his salary and fire him?
    would that mean he’d come off the books if, as Pincus says, the player is off the books at the end of the season. (thus, no lux tax on his $5M)
    just curious, it happens in every other business around the world.

  76. PeanutButterSpread June 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I honestly think we need LO more than we need TA; however, I think we need the both of them all the same because they compliment each other really well.

    LO’s versatility is just a huge huge bonus for us, especially for our front line.

    And honestly, I don’t see where else TA’s skill sets (offensively and defensively) would fit other than the triangle and with the Lakers.

    I love TA, but his offense isn’t that great, but in the triangle, his offensive weakness is masked due to Kobe, Pau, LO, Fish drawing attention.

    He has to stay in LA, it’s the only “system” that maximizes his potential and skill sets.

    The Lakers need him and he needs the Lakers.

    The Lakers need LO, but I don’t know if the LO needs the Lakers.

  77. ESPN just ran a story on Odom’s impending free agency.

    Odom said he wouldn’t be swayed by another team offering him a starting spot.

    “I won my first championship coming off the bench, that doesn’t make a difference,” he said.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4270724

  78. “Hi, this is Mitch Kupchak speaking. What’ll you give me for Sasha and Morrison? Hello? Hello?”

  79. Yeah, let’s just fire Sasha, no, he will work out I think next year OK, his shooting cannot get any worse, right? I think it is funny how we all wanted to use Odom as a trade asset earlier in the year for another player, now he is an indispensable part of the team and with our big man rotations all of a sudden. I was not in that crowd bye-the-way, I always have and will like LO and never wanted him gone, ever. He gives us consistency in our rotations; he will just always be our 6th man, I guess, unless there are injuries, which there always are in the NBA. Kobe should not take a pay cut, he is making the Laker organization a lot of money. Let the two owners dig a little deeper with all the profits they have made these last two Playoff years. Thanks for the facts Kurt, on the money situation of the team next year. Wow, $112 million!!!

    I am looking forward to the post by Darius tomorrow for sure.

  80. If the choice is Odom OR Ariza, the choice is Odom. Hopefully it won’t come to that point, but he’s harder to replace.

    A year ago people were worried about losing Turiaf and what it would mean, but Powell was a more-than-adequate fill in, and it would have made no sense fiscally to match Golden State’s offer to Turiaf.

    Same thing will apply to Trevor: if some squad offers him crazy money, you can’t break the bank paying your third- or fourth-best player (fifth-best if Odom returns and Bynum regains his form).

    If Trevor goes, presuming the rest of the squad is intact, Phil could move Luke back into the starting role and hope, pray and pray some more that Sasha regains his touch.

    Regardless of who the player is, the Lakers should bolster their outside shooting touch this off-season. A spot-up killer in the corner makes the triangle go, and that was lacking this year with consistency. (It was a weakness L.A. overcame, but a weakness nonetheless.)

    And those calling for ditching DJ or Powell to “save money” need to keep in mind that the Lakers have to fill out a roster, and what those guys make vs. what they contribute over the pre-season, practices and 82 games makes them worth keeping.

  81. This summer is going to test Mitch’s mettle. While obviously deserving of praise for assembling this championship roster, Mitch’s free agency track record is much less impressive than his trades and drafts. VladRad’s play fell short of his $30 mil contract; Sasha was a disaster this year; and Luke, while a nice complimentary player who fits well within Phil’s system, probably is not worth the fat 6-yr deal he got, especially given the shackles that contract has placed on our current flexibility. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and different circumstances may have dictated those decisions at the time. But a GM must be able to predict a team’s future needs and make moves that don’t preclude more important ones down the road. I hope Mitch is up for the tasks at hand and that past decisions don’t come back and bite him.

    While the Lamar/Trevor dilemma is the more immediate concern, I do wonder what the Lakers’ vision is for the PG position. We all love Fish and certainly he has an imprortant role on.next year’s team, but I think few would disagree that PG was and has been a vulnerability for years. Aaron Brooks and some good Kobe defense took us to 7 games. CP3, Williams, Parker, and others give us fits. To me, PG defense will be a primary reason if we don’t make it back to the Finals next year. Do we have a solution on our current roster? Farmar and Brown have some skills and positive attributes, but I have yet to see anything – especially in Jordan, who we’ve seen a lot of – indicating the Lakers can confidently hand over the keys to the Ferrari to either player. And is this just a long-term problem, or is the current three-headed monster insufficient to maintain even the current level of play, especially as Fish’s defense inevitably will decline because of age? The Lakers shouldn’t ignore PG, nothwithstanding the financial concerns over L.O./Trevor.

  82. I think a Portland offer to Ariza does more harm to them then it does to us. That team has a talent logjam that, in spite of how all the “good guys” propaganda thrown about them is fairly true, cannot be a good thing. Men in their mid-twenties are looking to make the leap into excellence, and guys will not be content watching another player with similar talent get their playing time. How much is Webster different then Outlaw and how different is Ariza from either of them? Allen has money to spend but he also has a team that needs to shed talent, addition by subtraction style, not horde it.

    I love, love, love Ariza. There are players with more skill and talent then him and I think he fits a role this team really needs. But, there are a bunch of players who could give us 80-110 percent of what Ariza has to offer and come at a price much closer to the Mid-Level then to $8 Mil. So, allowing an offer from a team like Portland to get our front office to sign him for more then his market value, I think, would be a mistake.

    I think Sasha can come in next season and play within his game. I have a gut feeling his value will be much closer to his contract next season and if so…. move him!!!!!

  83. Odom already said he would take a paycut to stay. If he meant it then there is really no issue. Whatever you cut from LO you can give to Ariza. Then whatever left over you have to give to Ariza to stay is not painful at all. Shannon Brown is replaceable. If someone wants to sign him away then by all means.

  84. If it come down to luxury tax dictating whom we should keep, why not keep both Ariza and Odom and trade Bynum? Think about it, they won the championship with minimal contributions from Bynum and major ones from Ariza and Lamar. Yeah, trading Bynum may (or may not) not be a good long term move, but keeping Lamar and Ariza when Kobe is in his prime gives them the highest chance of winning more titles in the next 3 years. Does anyone think Bynum would have been offered the contract that he got today (starting at 12+ mil)? No, and that would have given the lakers more options today. But the lakers panicked and signed him before ever seeing him for a full season. There is nobody else on the team that can be traded right now to clear cap space but Bynum. If anyone thinks that we can trade sasha or luke walton, you are dreaming. Maybe Morrison and farmar together, but I highly doubt it. Farmar’s stock (like Sasha’s) has dropped like a rock since last year.

    (edited for trade speculation)

    The Lakes have to keep both Ariza and Odom. Bynum is more expendable. In an ideal world, they would keep all of them, but if you can’t dump sasha, morrison or luke, signing both Ariza and Odom and trading Bynum is the only cost-effective way of keeping the team with the highest potential for titles in the next 3 years. If they are willing to trade Bynum, they might even find someone who will take Morrison’s or Sasha’s salary in a package deal.

    The time to win is now, not when Kobe and Pau get past their prime. There is always a decent chance that Bynum never becomes the player that everyone thinks he will. Without either Lamar or Ariza, their chance of repeating will take a big hit. Without Bynum, it won’t, because they proved they can win it without him.

  85. I’m not on board with trading bynum. 1) he’s got the most upside of any of our guys and I feel like at this point we cooked the turd cake, may as well eat it; 2) Doesn’t he still have like 3 years left on his deal? Nobody is eating that.

    yeah I said turd cake. That’s sort of how I feel about him right now. But he’s still our future for now, at least til his deal is in its last year. Like you said, nobody is giving him that kind of money at this point, so who would want him at that price?

  86. went to the parade yesterday and took some stellar photos from the staples center side of things…

    http://www.helloooooo.com/2009/06/18/obsession-city-the-lakers-nba-championship-parade/

  87. I think when it really comes down to it, Ariza isn’t greater than the MLE in the open market. If he is, it’s slightly above. Anybody remember James Posey? It was the full midlevel. Why would a team be willing to shell out more for a guy w/ a pretty similar skill set (yes, Ariza is younger, that’s it)? He’s not a guy that puts teams over the hump and will not get some backloaded monster deal. I think we are all underestimating the impact of the economy in combination with Free Agent Summer ’10. I’ve been considering all year how these two factors actually are going to luck out for this team and help keep them together.

  88. And here comes the offseason in all its glory. Trade Bynum? He’s no good? Aside the fact that he came back early and played Howard well on one knee, you don’t trade 22-year-old 7 footers with skills. He was key to our defense when healthy, he is a developing offensive player. And you got him at a fair price for someone of his age/size/skillset. Injuries may be a long term issue, but I can’t believe people would give up on him now.

  89. LO for me, because of his versatility and matchup problems. Trevor is becoming a solid player, but I think his shooting stats were a result of his hard work and the other offensive weapons that Lakers have. I don’t think he gets as many wide open looks on other teams that don’t have the offensive threats of the Lakers. I’m not sure how good he is at creating his own shot, partly because that wasn’t his role on this team. So it’s his defense which would have to be the real attraction. That’s worth something, but relatively easier to find than LO’s combination of skills. Also that 48% 3-pt shooting avg in the playoffs probably isn’t sustainable. His average during the season with 32%.

  90. Somebody help me here… simple question.. If say Portland offers Ariza 8mil.. can he still except less from the Lakers and stay?

  91. Trade Bynum? I’m w/ Kurt. No way. One psychological bias that people have is that recent events have a greater impact on their opinions than events further in the past, so Bynum’s “poor” performance during the playoffs influences people more than his performance before his injuries in the past two seasons. Remember how Bynum dominated teams at the start of the season? I think he has better post moves than Dwight Howard and he’s played less. Also, remember how signing Sasha at the end of last year was such a priority due in large part to his 44% 3-pt avg. at the end of that season.

  92. @Texas Rob – Trevor can accept less and stay. The question is how much less. Less say you’re Portland’s GM and you have some cap room and you have other players that you could move. Do you put a bid out there that would force the Lakers to overpay and handicap them down the road from a luxury tax standpoint? I’m not good at game theory, but it seems like it might be worth considering.

  93. Trestles:
    I never said Bynum is no good, just that the Lakers can win without him with Ariza and Lamar for the next 3 years. The impact that Bynum had during this year’s playoffs was replaceable. The way I remember it, the best defense on Howard was provided by Gasol, not Bynum who was in foul trouble most of the game. What Bynum provided defensively could have been provided by Mbenga (ie 5 fouls in 15 minutes to give Gasol a break!). Offensively, he was not a major factor.
    Again, Bynum is seen as a talent and laker’s only tradeable player for clearing caps space. And again, ideally, I would like to see everyone back, but if financial issues keep this from happenning, sign both Odom and Ariza, and package Bynum with Morrison and/or Sasha to get financial relief. You have to win when you can. Who knows what is in the cards 4-5 years from now when Bynum is in his prime and Kobe and Gasol are not?

  94. Texas Rob –

    Yes – Trevor is an unrestricted free agent, so there won’t be any offer sheets or anything else. He will be free to take whatever offers he gets, and to turn down whatever offers he gets, and he can take less money if he wants to.

    Though I wouldn’t count on that – this is his first chance at a big payday, so he’s going to want to maximize that. The only way he’s going to take a significantly lesser amount from the Lakers is if he thinks he will be in a position to earn even more in a couple of year or two, and decides to sign a short-term deal.

    In fact, given the economic climate this off-season, I bet we see more shorter term deals than we’re used to seeing, as agents/players are probably going to gamble that the the economy – and thus the salary cap and lux tax situations – is going to rebound in a year or two.

  95. Let me say before I get too far that I would have tried to trade Odom for a cap dump for much of this season. That strategy was active and possible for much of this season until Andrew went down again.

    Lamar not only made the best of things–he made himself irreplaceable.

    At that point the Laker’s may have switiched to the much more difficult plan B–salary dump for Mihm, and finesse trade of VladRad for Ammo and ShanWOW–with the hope they could somehow salary dump, control other salaries and sign both Ariza and Odom.

    It is my view that the Lakers will try very hard to sign Ariza, Odom, and Brown–finessing the luxury tax. That means salaries of about $6 million each for Ariza and Odom, and $2 million for Brown–with multi year salary beginning below the average amount for the first year.

    That leaves them with a need to dump the salary of Ammo somewhere during the regular season.

    The easiest way for that to happen is by developing him during the early part of next season–and pairing him with Jordan Farmar as expiring contracts.

    This “finessing” would get the Lakers in the range of fiscal sanity without losing any major players.

    We are now in the midst of the financial nightmare I believe the Lakers were trying to avoid. With the championship in hand, it looks like it was a gamble worth taking.

  96. Radmd,
    No matter what you think about Bynum, trading him doesn’t really help the money situation, because you have to bring back equivalent salary. (or 80%? of it)

  97. Was just reading about Lamar’s exit interview on ESPN.com.

    It seems from the conversation that Lamar got an inkling from PJ and Mitch that he would be playing a bit more PG and SF next season. Helps to reduce DFish’s minutes. and very possible we will see the Three-Headed Monster some of us have been dreaming about.

    It’s not concrete proof, but it seems to me that, with Odom stating what he did in the exit interview, that PJ and Mitch believe Ariza might not be playing with the Lakers next year.

    Any thoughts?

  98. 97., Yes: deeply depressed

  99. Okay, how many other legit seven footers with soft hands and huge upside are available this offseason? Anyone? Yeah, that’s why we don’t trade Bynum, period.

  100. I want to know everyone’s thoughts about ariza being a primary defender against a #1 option at the 3, especially the bulkier 3s. Can he stay with lebron and/or melo (to a degree)? During the denver series, ariza was torn apart by carmelo for a few games. even in the regular season, sans some nice steals on lebron in the open court, i dont remember him having a big impact.

    if we can develop lukes shot like we developed arizas… i think i’d rather take LO.

  101. The biggest consideration when talking about the team’s financial situation for the future is Buss’ willingness to spend *next* year. I think Pincus makes a tremendous point in that re-signing Odom/Ariza/Brown/Powell/DJ would put a huge financial burden on the team for next season. But that Burden really is only for next season.

    Understand that after next season Morrison and Fisher’s deals both come off the cap. That’s over $10 mil in salary commitments to two players. If we allow those players to just fall off the cap (and fill their roles internally with a re-signed WOW and/or Farmar and low level FA’s or draft picks – which we have 3 of this season and an area in which Mitch has shown his eye for talent) then we’ll have a team that is essentially the same one that we have now minus Fish.

    Basically, what I’m saying is this: *IF* Buss is willing to spend more than he ever has before next season, the odds are that the financial burden will only last for one year as things get better the next season. The season after that, Sasha’s contract comes off the books. So theoretically, in two seasons, we’d have PG (Farmar or WOW or draft pick or cheapish FA), Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Walton + fillers (draft picks, Powell (maybe), DJ (maybe), cheapish FA’s). That’s a legit 7 man rotation with fillers. And mind you, those are fillers that are coming to LA (not too bad a place to live and play ball) and coming to the Lakers (premier franchise that would be a perennial contender for a championship).

    In the end, we must think long term and not just next season. Yes, next season would be a very difficult financial pill to swallow (but we’d also be almost assured of another deep playoff run, which would bring in extra revenue). But if you trust in your scouting and player development and you trust in the allure of your team and market, you can ride out that one tough year and make out pretty well in two years. And if things break right (Kobe aging gracefully, Gasol enjoying a high level prime, Bynum developing relatively injury free and on his current curve, Odom keeping his quickness advantages, Ariza becoming the player that we think he can), we’ll be beyond set in 3 seasons and into the future past that.

    This is how you build for the long term and not just for periodic runs every 4 years. During our last three peat we did not replenish talent (there were no Ariza/Gasol deals or a Bynum in the pipeline) and everyone lost their edge at the same time that Shaq and Kobe and Buss and Phil stopped getting along. You can avoid that same scenario by locking up the very good players that we have right now and letting everyone grow and age together as roles evolve. We’ve started this process with Bynum’s contract and with Kobe/Gasol on board. We can solidify this with Odom/Ariza (and to a lesser extent WOW/Farmar/other PG) being retained. It will be hard, but it’s here for the taking…

  102. Ultimately, Ariza and Odom returning to the Lakers is up to them. They can choose to take less money; it’s not as if the league or player’s association is forcing them to sign contracts elsewhere for more money. It’s up to Trevor whether he wants to go to some place like Portland with their idiotic fans for 2-3 mil more per year, or to stay here where he is beloved and wanted. It’s up to Lamar whether he wants to go some place like Detroit for 2-3 mil more per year, or stay here where he is the heart of the team and the joy of the locker room. Ultimately, everything comes down to choice.

    Trading Bynum would be the stupidest decision of all-time. He may not have been the most productive player on our team this season, but he was instrumental to our early season success and played an excellent role in our championship run. Not only did he perform this role, but his upside is tremendous. One of the reasons why our team is so tantalizing is because it is young; so long as we re-sign them and they don’t get hurt, we will be watching this group for a long time. And there’s something to be said for sustained success, even after Kobe is gone. Andrew will be a key part of that.

    If we can trade Ammo or Sasha, I’m fine with that, but in doing so, we need to make sure we get: 1.) salary cap relief (trade exception or smaller expirings), 2.) a back-up for Kobe, 3.) draft picks. As of right now, we have a solid 10 man rotation, with starters and back-ups at each position. Throw in Shannon Brown and DJ Mbenga and you’ve got a 12 man roster. I for one would like to keep it that way.

  103. I was just at Lakers.com downloading backgrounds and guess what I ran into, a pic named ‘NBA Champions Portrait’, it had left to right Pau, PJ, Kobe and quess who, LO. Those four were kind of important to this Championship, huh.

  104. exhelodrvr,
    If I am not mistaken, you can trade Bynum to a team with salary cap space for future draft picks. Remember last year’s clipper’s trade for Marcus Camby for second round draft picks? The clippers were significantly under the cap so they could take the salary and not send any salary back to Denver Nuggets.

  105. Darius,
    On a personal level, I agree. However, I suspect the Lakers management is looking at this from the perspective of how much more likely is a title without player X than with player X. I think the key in that decision (from their perspective) is Bynum’s health. With a healthy Bynum, and Ariza, they would be the favorites to win again. If that is the case, Odom is somewhat expendable.

    I would love to know what their honest assessment is of Bynum’s injury potential, and Farmar’s starting PG potential. Those will be shaping the decisions.

  106. It is my opinion (and only that) that both LO and Ariza resign with us. Ariza has bounced around enough to realize what a good fit he’s been for us. LO knows he has a chance to chase a few more rings. Both resign for around 14 million total and we all get to see if we can make the run for 73 wins next year. If I know Kobe, he will be working on motivating the guys – like yesterday.

  107. I think internal politics make it impossible that Bynum will be traded (it’s pretty much Jim Buss’s claim to credibility), and Phil seems sold on him now (and Phil loves him a dominant defensive big man). And I do think the kid’s absurdly high upside makes it a bad move.

    But, it is still weirdly freeing to think about it. What if you could get an excellent young PG (think Hinrich’s rep… I’m not convinced about the reality) and an adequate big man (think Gortat level) and maybe a high draft pick in return? That would pretty much shore up the team’s weaknesses and settle the lineup as Newguy-Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Gasol, all with okay backups.

    It will be completely fascinating to see Odom playing PG. It makes sense from a lineup dream perspective Odom-Kobe-Ariza-Gasol-Bynum, but… it’s hard for me to imagine. All the same critiques of why Odom is better at PF not SF still hold… His strengths are diving off-ball, the occasional drive left, great rebounder, pushing the break off the boards; his weaknesses are an erratic jumper, passivity, not a particularly strong screener. At PG he would also have more issues covering little speedy guys… but I guess it’s all part of the ongoing experiment to get the most out of The Goods.

  108. By the way, from nba.com, the key offseason dates:

    June 25: The 2009 NBA Draft
    On June 25th at Madison Square Garden in New York, the Lakers will participate in the 2009 NBA Draft, in which the team has picks at No. 29 of Round 1 and 42 and 59 of Round 2.

    July 1-7: Free Agency Moratorium Period:
    On July 1st, free agents are allowed to negotiate and communicate with teams, but are not allowed to sign contracts until July 7th, which marks the first day of unrestricted free agency.

    July 10 – 19: NBA Summer league, Las Vegas
    NBA rookies, young players and undrafted free agents go head-to-head with between four and seven games daily in Las Vegas at the Summer League. The Lakers will likely send their new draft picks and some of their younger players to compete in L.A. uniforms.

    Early October: Training Camp
    Set to take place at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, L.A. will open its title defense.

    October 7: Preseason game No. 1 at Anaheim’s Honda Center
    The Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors in preseason game No. 1. Find a complete pre-season schedule and ticket information, click HERE.

  109. Odom, Ariza and Brown all played this season with success in a contract year. Most NBA players play well in their contract year and fall off tremendously thereafter (see Sasha and Walton).
    Somehow, or another I feel as though Odom will be more consistent now that he has legitimized himself by winning a championship.
    I fully expect Ariza to continue to develop, after all can’t help but pull for a hometown guy that contributed to a championship after being on the team for less than two years.
    The eyes are the window to the soul, someone once said, and Brown’s eyes showcased a longer, a hunger, a burning desire to be a part of this team; so if the Laker’s keep him, he will continue to surprise as he learns more offensive sets in the triangle.

    Fun to speculate on what the Lakers will do about these three players.

    It’s time to give up on Sasha Vujacic he now reminds me of Slava Medvedinko, the Lakers invested so many years in a player to yield so little in return.

    Fantastic article on Kobe!!

  110. I think the payroll thing is over blown. If Jerry Buss wants to win he will resign both Ariza and Odom. 127 million for payroll is not a lot. Considering that Jerry Buss made 4 million every Laker playoff game this year that is 48 Million right there. That is also not including what he made during the regular season and off all the TV deals and Lakers apparel. And the fact that we act like the Lakers are his only business. I am sure he has other businesses as well. He can definitely afford it. Its all up to him. So if he wants to he will resign them. Money shouldn’t be an excuse. Thats my opinion.

  111. Here’s a question that has bothered me for some time: How much extra did the Lakers earn for this (and last year’s) playoff run, and how much did each Laker player earn?

  112. j. d. hastings June 18, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4270724

    Interesting that LO states explicitly that starting isn’t a priority to him, which hopefully removes one of my concerns to him returning.

    The cash consideration is still huge. If Bynum is ready to step up full time, Odom may not be a necessity, but right now that’s a huge if. Problem is, how long are they willing to sign LO with the understanding that they signed Bynum with certain expectations. I see what Darius is saying, but for that to work, the team has to concede that it’s not going to add any parts for the forseeable future, and let everybody outside the core 5 (Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Odom, Ariza) gradually depart to save on their salaries.

    This happens to every champion though. Winning raises the value of each part, meaning that the fringes of the team need to start being sacrificed in order to keep the core. Whatever happens, the choices are hard. I hope we keep everyone, but will appreciate them all whoever we may lose.

  113. Some comment on this from a statistical perspective.

    During the playoffs Ariza had a PER of 17.0 with a counterpart PER of 16.5. When he was on the court the Lakers were -5.3 points per 100 possessions worse.
    During the playoffs Odom had a PER of 19.4 and a counterpart PER of 16.6. When he was on the court the Lakers were 15.8 points per 100 possessions better.
    During the playoffs Shannon Brown had a PER of 13.7 and a counterpart PER of 11.3. When he was on the court the Lakers were 3.0 points per 100 possessions better.
    Link: http://www.82games.com/0809/playoffs/0809LAL.HTM
    Not sure what to make of this except to say that Odom’s On/Off numbers are amazing.

    We can also look at each players statistical Plus/Minus from the playoffs*.
    Lamar Odom +2.35
    Trevor Ariza + 3.15
    Shannon Brown -3.50

    * Statistical Plus/Minus is a way of estimating a players contribution to the final score from the box score statistics.
    Read about it here http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=2191

    My take looking at the numbers is that Odom is the guy you can’t live without whereas Brown is the most replaceable.

    Throughout the year there’s been an unmistakable trend that the team simply is better with Lamar Odom on the floor. That trend continued into the playoffs. For Ariza there was no similar trend.

    Emotionally though, I’d like all three free agents to come back.

  114. drrayeye, don’t forget that whlie the team (owners) and players make extra because of the playoff runs. … and add to that the extra from license and merchandising…
    all the while, the Lakers BRAND is growing and there is a huge value added to this. it’s a difficult determination, but you can be sure it is growing.
    so even if he were to break even with the added payroll and taxes, it’s still a win situation with Buss because the value of the team continues to grow though brand awareness.

  115. 111. Lakersfan, actually the Lakers are the only Buss family business anymore. He made his money in real estate but is not in that business anymore.

    Buss has a right to make money, and you can argue when the team wins he has the right to make more. He has the right to set that spending figure wherever he wants.

  116. la_resistance28 June 19, 2009 at 1:37 am

    I would love to have both LO and Ariza back. But LO, man, this guy is full of so much heart and soul on this team:

    “To celebrate the Lakers’ 15th championship, superstar forward Lamar Odom has arranged for all Lakers’ players and coaches to receive a bottle of Crown Royal XR (one of his faves) with a custom embroidered bag.”

    http://lakeshowlife.com/2009/06/18/odom-gives-fellow-lakers-crown-royal-championship-gift/

    How awesome is that? Article only mentions players and coaches, but I suspect LO probably slipped the Buss family some bottles as well as a reminder for how great it is to have a guy like him on the team.

  117. I think this sums up Simmon’s latest Kobe/Lakers article perfectly.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nation_desperately_seeks?utm_source=a-section

    “I could never do what these guys do,” Tom Matthews, 34, said. “But what I find most moving is when they sum up these apparently inconsequential stories with poignant closing sentences, often just a few seemingly inane words—or perhaps even a separated quote that’s given its own standalone closing paragraph—intended to make the reader ignore the previous 872 words of mindless filler and take a moment to think about sports’ overall influence on who, ultimately, we are as a nation and a culture.”

    “It’s simply ingenious,” Matthews added

  118. I just love LO:

    – “Hopefully, it won’t take that long,” he said, joking about upcoming contract negotiations. “In and out, three years, 80 million.”

    – “Jackson and Kupchak encouraged Odom to stay in shape and hit the weights during the offseason, which he took as a sign the team wants him back. At the same time, in a nod to his social life, they urged restraint.

    “We won a championship, I’m 29, decent looking,” he said, smiling. “When we go out, I’m well-received, so they want me to take care of myself.

  119. Trade Bynum? Really? Warning: long post, but I don’t think the true absurdity of trading Bynum has been dealt with.

    If you believe in PER, Bynum was the 7th best center in the league last season, right behind Pau. He’s 21 years old, and his averages from the last two seasons are (07-08/08-09): 13.1/14.3 pts, 10.3/7.9 rebs, 2.1/1.8 blks, 1.7/1.4 asts, 65.9/59.8 TS% in 28.8 minutes in both seasons. His rebounding numbers might be even more impressive if he wasn’t sharing the floor with talented rebounders in Gasol, Odom, and Kobe. At 21, he’s far from peaking, his injuries were both “freak” in nature and aren’t an indication of an inability to stay healthy. With health and continued development, we’re talking about a guy who’s a potential mainstay All-Star within the next couple of years.

    Here’s a list of the first round centers (rough list, didn’t want to go through all of the guys listed as F to see how many actually play a good bit of center) from the past 5 years. Howard, Okafor, Rafael Araujo, Biedrins, Robert Swift, Pavel Podkolzin, David Harrison, Bogut, Al Jefferson, Bynum, Channing Frye, Fran Vazquez, Johan Petro, Ian Mihamini, Patrick O’Bryant, Hilton Armstrong, Oleksey Pecherov, Oden, Horford, Noah, Spencer Hawes, Jason Smith, Sean Williams, Lopez twins, Javale McGee, Roy Hibbert, Kosta Koufos. Gortat is pretty much the only 2nd round center worth mentioning in the past 5 years.

    Reading over that list, I see Bynum as the third best center to have entered the NBA in the past 5 years, behind only Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson; maybe Spencer Hawes, Greg Oden, and Brook Lopez step into this conversation over the next couple of years. Of all of the current starting centers in the league, I only see Shaq, Amare, Duncan, Howard, Pau, Al Jefferson, Bosh, and Yao being ahead of Bynum; of these guys, Shaq and Duncan are getting old, Amare doesn’t play D, Yao can’t stay healthy, and we’ve already got Pau.
    The Lakers figure to be drafting in the high twenty range for the foreseeable future, and big men of Bynum’s quality don’t come around that often, and get traded even less often. If not for two freak injuries, and the fact that he’s on a team with Kobe and Pau, Bynum would probably be talked about as a potential franchise center to build a team around.

    Hate to harp on it, but I think that trading Bynum would be an absolutely absurd move by the Lakers; the only guys who we could get to make this trade a win for the Lakers are players of a caliber that very rarely get traded. So calm down, he was on one leg during the playoffs, still had some pretty good games tossed in with the not-so-good ones, and he’s already shown that he’s a top 10 center when healthy and is still years from his prime. We refused to trade him before he had really done anything in the NBA, its pretty inconceivable that we’d trade him now, given what he’s shown us he can be.

  120. 115 Chris h.,

    I agree this championship means extra money for everyone–I’d just like to have some numbers per player for last year and this year.

    It seems to me that would be a financial incentive to Odom, Ariza, and Brown to resign with the Lakers for less than with another team.

  121. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the have to sign LO. Bynum for all his talents hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. If he goes down again and you don’t have LO, the lakers will really be undersized and exposed up front. You just can’t risk that.

    I also agree with some other posts about Ariza. While I love his game, I think his skill sets are a lot more replaceable then LO. I LOVED Ariza’s defense but I think a lot of his offensive success was the product of the system and him being an afterthought. Teams on the other hand MUST gameplan for LO.

  122. We will have Odom and Ariza come training camp…call me optimistic

  123. We can stop with the who’s better, Odom or Ariza, because they’re both terrific

  124. Odom and Ariza are both terrific, but Odom is better. And I do hope (and expect) that both will be back with the Lakers.

    Looking at Laker history, Jerry Buss has always brought back the key components after a championship. Whether Ariza is a KEY component is the question of the day. I think he is and I think the front office will feel the same way. I think our roster will remain relatively unchanged from championship 09 to training camp 09.

  125. One thought about Ariza, based on a conversation I had with a fellow LAL fan:

    His skill set, at present, roughly approximates that of four players who have been key contributors to recent champions: Robert Horry, Tayshaun Prince, Bruce Bowen and James Posey. The keys to the skill set are the ability to defend the wing and to knock down the open 3.

    This seems to be huge for teams that are at a championship level, yet is not a big deal for teams below that. Prince, for all the contributions we (unfortunately) saw him make first-hand in 2004, could do nothing to prevent the Pistons’ slide into mediocrity. Posey did not prove to be the missing piece in New Orleans. Yet, these guys were key pieces of champions. Also, Bowen meant less to the Spurs as Ginobili and Duncan dealt with health issues and age.

    I think one reason for this is that once you get to the last two rounds of the playoffs, you are going to be facing an opponent with at least one star wing player. It may be an all-time great (Jordan, Kobe, James) or a really good All-Star player (Pierce, Anthony, Ginobili) but that guy is going to be there, and you need someone to bother him and make him work. Denver and Orlando really didn’t have that kind of guy to make Kobe work–but Houston did, and look which team took the Lakers to 7, although Denver and Orlando are both better teams overall than Houston is (Brooks was of course also key in this).

    In addition, I think floor spacing and having guys with the ability to spot up and knock down the triple, while always important, are even more important late in post-season. With more detailed defensive planning, aimed at slowing down the stars, particularly on key possessions, other guys get open looks at crucial times, and games often turn on their ability to hit these shots. We saw it with Horry, with Posey, with Prince, and this year with Odom, Fisher and Ariza.

    I am not saying that Ariza is better than Odom, and while I would probably pick Ariza if forced to choose, I am not sure I am right about that.

    But I think Trevor Ariza is a huge piece for the Lakers right now, and what I wrote above made why I think so clearer for me.

  126. During the closeout game, at the 3:47 mark of the 4th quarter, Phil played the following line-up:

    Bynum
    Odom
    Walton
    Ariza
    Bryant

    Who is the point guard?

    This line up was on the court for 2:22. I really liked the mis-matches this created. With the possible exception of Trevor, each can create havoc on the low post.

    Interestingly not one of the announcers pointed out how unusual this line up was. Checking 82games, these 5 players had not played a single minute together in a game prior to this stint.

    Phil does not do things on a whim. He didn’t put these 5 on the court by accident and without planning. That he would experiment in the finals (albeit with a comfortable lead) is revealing.

    Perhaps this event portends a possible future direction; a point guard-less unit with long defenders who can switch every screen and defend the paint; who can force doubles on the low block and cause defenders to scramble.

    PJ specifically told LO to expect more time at point guard next year. If successful, perhaps Farmar can be packaged with Ammo some time in the year to reduce the payroll.

    From show-time to the bad boys to Jordanesque one-on-one, the NBA teams conform to whatever basic model is the the flavor of the day.

    Frankly, I’m tired of the point-guard-centric, high-screenroll based offenses that every team seems to run. A point guard-less triangle would be devastating. Luke posting up Chris Paul comes to mind.

    It would be nice if AEG and Buss give Phil the chance to implement this strategy.

  127. New post up, Darius’ ode to Odom.

  128. drrayeye, I see your point. I was coming at it more from the value of the Brand, and that is not a value for the players but most def a value for the owners, and their families, (over a longer period of time).
    but your point is very valid, if the players are to receive additional income from the added games, that should count towards their annual salary.

    and, add this to the equation, (I’m coming back to Brand…and not Elton…Brand-name) do you think Posey would have become more of a known (Brand) name if he hadn’t been such an important part of last year’s finals? the answer is NO.
    when a player gets the exposure in a deep playoff run, his own Brand becomes greater.
    same could be said for Shannon Brown.
    You could even say that Trevor and Lamar have just experienced this increase in Brand value for themselves not as a part of the Laker team, but rather as Individual Players. (I’ve seen an awful lot of Gasol jerseys lately)
    Believe me, the Agents are very much aware of this.
    This factor, and that living in LA isn’t so bad, (as someone above mentioned, LO had an appearance on Entourage), and that the Lakers are known as a winning franchise, is all a part of why players (and their agents) want to play for the LA Lakers.

  129. Im very confident that both Ariza and Odom
    will be back next year not so much Shannon tho.

    By trading Ammos contract for nothing and paying the team to take him we will save the luxury tax hit for next season. Saving us a few million dollars.

    We can do the same thing the following year with Sasha.

    I hope we keep Shannon tho, his athleticism is off the charts. A lineup of shannon kobe ariza odom and gasol wud mean we cud possibly have the faster/more athletic player at each position… And speed kills

  130. we know mitch can pull something we dnt really expected..like the GASOL trade…

    as next season starts..i do feel lakers might keep both odom and ariza, however, it will cost a lot…if only one of them wil stay..ill go with lamar, i do accept effort of trevor in the finals…however, lamar is always an insurance at the 4 behind pau and andrew…but it will take a lot of wits,determination and pressure from the management to keep thus two vital cogs to keep our championship core intact…

    maybe an idea of farmar, morrison, vujacic (2,5,5million respectively) for hinrich…-9.5….saves 2.5, maybe about 5mill inc luxury tax…

  131. from a financial perspective i think the lakers should load up on a little more debt to finance their big spending next year..interest rates are lower than bill simmon’s cheap shots.. with rising inflation it’ll be easier to pay it off.. from what i can tell their leverage level is really low.. but its kinda difficult to find much numbers.

    the problem w/leverage is the cost of bankruptcy.. the tarnishing of an organization’s name and financial stability.. but this isn’t really an issue for the lakers..

    Man U fans were outraged at the glazers saddling the club w/tons of debt a couple of years back.. but with their earning power and the relative immunity to downturns, this is really quite a viable financial strategy.. but like i said i haven’t seen the numbers.. has anyone?

  132. At times the Lakers lack toughness…

    What about signing Artest ??

    Bynum & Gasol could absorb more of Odoms role and Artest would replace Ariza.

    …And resign whoever is cheapest.

    If the Lakers lose Brown, gotta trade either Sasha or Morrison for a decent guard ($5mill is alot).

  133. come on- the bynum trade thing is the flat-out silliest thought ever. yes he sucked horrifically during the playoffs, but give our young center an injury break.

    his upside is tremendous (top 5 center for the next 5+?) and gives the lakers a perfect see-saw strategy. kobe at the top of the game now, bynum coming along. but where will this team be in 5 years? kobe aging gracefully (there’s your PG of the future, a tall, smart veteran in PJ’s triangle a la shaw, harper, etc.) and bynum peaking. we’re talking about a finals run for 3+ years, strong playoff contenders for 7+. no other team has both current dominance and potential dominance. celtics/spurs have to figure out how to maximize now and rebuild. the nba is littered with close/has-beens (e.g., suns) that are now looking for answers.

    kupchak/buss have a phenomenal core and we’re immensely lucky and brillant to have it. seriously, stop this silliness on trading bynum.

    and to everyone on the board- reallllax. LO and TA are both coming back. buss pays winners- period. owning a sports franchise has never been about making money- it’s a pure ego trip. buss, before he rides off into the sunset, can say he dominated the NBA for 30+ years (80s, ’00s, ’10s). you think he’s going to give that up?

  134. darius has it right, @101. this is a one year deal. after next year morrison and fish could come off the payroll. to put it simply, obviously, like every other poster, i don’t want to lose lo, ta or wow. but clearly we don’t know the financial health of the lakers, and can’t accurately predict p and l for next year.
    and as stated, what ary buss’s priorities? how much is he willing to spend?
    it’s the Busses’, Mitch’s and bean-counters
    who have to make the calculations.
    ps: re: the PG question, we actually had 11/2 unofficial point guards, lo and kb!
    pps: ok -you forced me! lo gave the lakers their unique attributes. trevor, and he was my favorite playoff guy (other than kb and pg) was great and could continue growing, but is more replaceable, though i really don’t want to find out!

  135. TO WHOMEVER IT MIGHT CONCERN:
    Please do not break up this team, we need both Odom and Ariza to return next season; do not allow another team to get our players; I know you will do what is best for our team.
    The Magic didn’t win, but they are willing to pay whatever they need to pay to keep Hedo; we won and I know that we can do the same; if a losing team does not want anyone to get one of tits best players, we should do the same!THE LAKERS WILL BE GREAT FOR MANY YEARS IF WE KEEP OUR TEAM IN TACT! go lakers!

  136. i dont understand how resigning LO, ariza, and wow for a combined 16 million would make our total jump over 20 million. I understand that the luxery tax requires u to pay double but if LO made 14 mil last year, Ariza mad 3, and Shannon made even the minimum thats about 17.5 right there
    so wouldnt them signing for 16 mil total, contribute to lowering it ?

    Actually wait i just remembered….Bynum’s extension kicks in next year
    Answered my own question lol

  137. To me LO is a good player but is to inconsistent to get 7 to 8 mil a year for a 30 year old player. Keep Ariza, go out get Birdman(2 mil) and Mcdyess(1.5 mil). Thats your big man insurance policy, combine both bigs numbers and you match LO#. Give more ballhanding responsibility to Ariza next year less money problem solved.

  138. One think I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that the cap is likely to go DOWN, not stay the same, so the penalty will be more severe that what is listed here.

    Also, like the article said, they could sign Brown and hope that they could find a way to trade Morrison (though I think Kobe might object to Vujacic being traded for nothing) then choose not to bring back DJ.

  139. I really can’t see Ariza leaving. He is a hometown kid, who just won a championship, knows the players, can win more championships, and thrives in this system. There is a reason he was our top 3 point shooter in the finals/playoffs… because he was wide open! (Except for the 3 pointer near the end of the 4th quarter in Game 4 of the Finals). This was because of the triangle offense and Kobe/Pau drawing triple teams. He will not get those kind of looks on other teams. Kobe taught him how to shoot, and just imagine how much better he can become under Kobe’s wing.

    Look how he performed in NY and Orlando… Then after less than a season with LAL, he becomes an intrecal part to a championship team.

    Portland has Outlaw and Batum who are very similar to Trevor… I can’t see them offering twice their salaries when they have 2 guys like him. I can’t see him going to Detroit either with the uncertainty of the team and the fact that they already have a SF in Prince, when Detroit needs help in so many other areas. Ariza has it good where he is now and will be offered more in LAL.

  140. Someone posted this on a Yahoo Sports blog…

    Buss needs to bite the bullet for one year, 2009-2010. In 2010-2011 Fisher comes off the books for $5million (probably retires), Sasha Vujacic becomes a $5.4million expiring contract (someone who needs a shooter like Phoenix suns or New York knicks will take him and he might succeed because he’ll be able to jack up shots) Adam Morrison goes off for $6.8million (which is an offer not part of the cap but counts as far as staying at the cap area). So that’s $10million in 2011 that they can save. So somehow they have to figure out a way for Ariza and Odom to add up to about $10-12 million in two years. I say that Ariza gets a 4-year midlevel 20 million (5 million) and Odom gets a 4-year (32 million) contract backloaded with 6, 7, 8, 9 million increases, so that by the last year of the deal he’s a $9 million expiring deal which is coincidently the Team Option year for Andrew Bynum. At that point Odom and Drew can be traded if it doesnt work out and they’ll be able to basically grab anybody at that point such as a Kevin Durant, Chris Paul etc.

  141. Defense wins championships. With the addition of two big men for the price of less than one. The Lakers gain a toughness edge that has been missing from the team, they will be able to match any teams toughness in the NBA. Let LO go to Portland and be amongst his favorite candy(trees)LOL

  142. I’m not really seeing where Phil said Odom will play more point guard.

    I see they told Odom to stay in shape. I thought that was mostly because they had to tell him that because he didn’t last offseason.

    It would seem people are inferring from that comment that Odom will play either PG or SF (or point forward).

    As we tried Odom at PG and it didn’t really work out (06-07) and Phil has never used him as a SF using Pau and Bynum together (even making clear Odom would not start at SF before the season began), it would seem to me that it’s not likely Odom is going to play either PG (Point Forward, whatever) or SF. Unless Odom can keep knocking down open shots like he did in the Finals from 3, I’m not seeing SF be his position.

    I’m interested in being shown that I am wrong. Please show me a link, and not one that requires (for me) a major stretch of logic.

  143. maybe a phil tends to use lamar on being the point forward for the second unit