What’s Mitch Kupchak doing these days?

Zephid —  December 6, 2009

First off, sad news about Greg Oden losing this season to a fractured patella.  Much as I dislike the Blazers, sports-hate only goes so far (I feel so dirty using a Bill Simmons term).  We Laker fans can sympathize with seeing your young big man go down for the season; it’s a feeling like a punch to the gut that won’t go away.  Best wishes to Oden and a quick, full recovery.

Now, I wonder: after a pretty busy summer, it seems like Mitch Kupchak has it pretty easy these days.  However, I wanted to take a look at what is potentially on his plate and I came up with three things: getting Kobe to sign a contract extension, shedding salary, and bringing in someone to improve the bench play.

1.) According to the LATimes, the Lakers have offered Kobe a max extension, which he summarily rejected.  In a recent article for the NYTimes, Larry Coon tells us that this was probably the smart move, given that the CBA will expire in 2 years at which time the formula for the calculation of maximum salary (Kobe’s salary) may be decreased.  All signs point to Bryant coming back to LA (he’d be pretty crazy to leave), so it’s just a matter of when and at what price.  Perhaps we should just take our minds off it with another look at the ridiculousness from Friday night.  Boy am I glad I didn’t go to bed early.

2.) Going along with our recent discussion of the Taco Unit (love the name, btw) and Adrian Wojnarowski’s couple lines about the Lakers FO wanting to cut salary, I figured I would also take a look at his options to purely cut salary.

Disclaimer: There will be no overt trade speculation allowed in this thread.  This means no statements in a form isomorphic to “the Lakers should trade Player X for Player Y.”  In short, I want to limit the discussion of players.

According to Wojnarowski, Mitch Kupchak is looking to cut salary from the Lakers monolithic $91, 377,313 pay roll.  Frankly, I wouldn’t blame the FO is this was the case.  With a pay roll that size, I can imagine Dr. Buss staring at his poker funds while sitting at some table second-guessing an all-in decision.  He has already shelled out a ton of cash for the team; asking much more of him is just greedy.

So what does this mean for potential trades?  Well, it means that the Lakers are looking to send salary to other teams without taking back salary in exchange.  There are two ways to do this: First, trade to a team with cap space like was done last year with Chris Mihm being sent to Memphis.  Second, trade with a team over the cap that has a large enough Traded Player Exception and is willing to part with it in exchange for a player.

The first option is a little bleak.  The salary cap is currently $57.7 million and according to HoopsHype.com, only 4 teams are under that level: New Jersey (56.7), Portland (56.7), Memphis (54.7), and OKC (52).  New Jersey doesn’t want to take on any more salary because they want cap room for the Bonanza of 2010, Portland’s only intent seems to be moving Andre Miller, and OKC has been extraordinarily frugal during this time of recession.  So unless Chris Wallace feels like helping out the Lakers (*coughagaincough*), I don’t see the FO going this route.  (Note: in the event that one of these teams does accept one of our players for “free,” they do have to give us something in return.  This is usually the form of a heavily protected 2nd round pick, similar to what we received in the Mihm Trade.  Also, we would probably have to shell out some cash to help pay the outgoing player’s salary ($3 mil max), but this will still save us money due to luxury tax payments doubling all of our salaries at this point.)

As for the TPE option, I did a little searching and it turns out that ShamSports.com has an excellent list of Traded Player Exceptions by team, including name, monetary value, and expiration date.  Of these, the only teams with large enough TPE’s ($4 mil if you want to trade away one of our $5 mil players) are: Miami (Banks), New Orleans (Butler), and Orlando (Turkoglu).  Of these teams, New Orleans wants to cut salary now (because they kinda stink and are way over the tax line), and Orlando’s payroll is comparable to ours.  So in other words, we’ve got one potential dance partner (Miami), and they’re definitely not taking on any contracts that extend beyond this year.  (Note: According to Larry Coon, TPE’s cannot be combined.  So even if Chicago wanted to take a a hot, heaping, steaming pile of Adam Morrison, they wouldn’t be able to with just their TPE’s.)

So what’s the rub?  Even given that Mitch Kupchak has made the bench available basically for free, the number of teams that would actually take one of them without us taking any salary in return is very, very small (by my count, 2).

3.) That brings us to the last point: improving bench play.  This may involve trading some of our current Taco Unit guys and maybe even rotation players like Farmar, ShanWOW, and maybe even Fisher.  However, for each person we send out, we would either have to sign another player for a minimum contract, or receive at least as many players in return.  This makes trading Mbenga or Powell pretty pointless, considering they make the minimum and we would have to replace them with a live body anyway, ruling either of them out.  Luke is still hurt, and I’m pretty sure most teams wouldn’t want him for $20 mil over 4 years, so he’s out as well.  And as I said before, no one wants Sasha, even for free.  Most teams would probably rather take a swig of elephant poop juice than take on Sasha’s contract (and Sasha’s play, for that matter).

For me, that leaves us with 4 potential assets that we can move: Derek Fisher’s expiring contract, Ammo’s EC, Farmar, and ShanWOW.  I’m pretty sure we would all riot and storm the Staples center if Kupchak traded ShanWOW, so that rules him out.  Fisher also seems like he’d be tough to lose, considering he knows the system and is a great locker room guy (However, if he’s willing to get traded, take a buy-out, and wait 30 days without flapping his mouth, Jerry Stackhouse-style, there is potential for a great trade for us).  Farmar has also been playing pretty well over the past few weeks, and it’ll be really hard on Fisher for us to part with his primary back-up without bringing someone back to take off some of the load.  So that leaves us with Ammo’s EC.

So what can we do with Ammo’s EC?  First, it is somewhat unlikely that we’ll trade an EC for an EC: one team is going to end up screwed because salaries have to be within 25% of one another.  However, I could see someone wanting to send us a more talented player with a larger EC (say around 6 mil) in exchange for Ammo, saving them some $2 mil this year in salary and luxury tax payments (this kinda defeats the purpose of wanting to cut salary, so it’s also unlikely that Mitch would do this unless he gets an offer he can’t refuse).  However, it is much more likely that we would have to trade Ammo in exchange for some player with a multiple year contract.  If we do this, we’ll end up taking on just as much salary next year as we did this year, which doesn’t seem like it would float Dr. Buss’ boat. So the Lakers may be better off just eating Ammo’s salary this year and letting his contract expire off their books.

In summary, if Mitch is really serious about cutting salary, he’s got his work cut out for him.  Then again, I thought trading VladRad’s contract would be impossible, and Mitch turned him into Ammo’s valuable EC and ShanWOW, so I guess you can’t really rule out anything in this league.

-Zephid
P.S.: According to Kurt, Lamar and ShanWOW are not included in Mitch Kupchak’s “Free Bench Players” Giveaway.

Zephid

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52 responses to What’s Mitch Kupchak doing these days?

  1. Zephid, I hadn’t posted this anywhere yet, but I was told that Mitch offering to move bench players did not include LO or ShanWOW. So our garbage time dunks are safe.

  2. Also, just to play moderator for a second at the top of this thread: On posts like this there is a little more wiggle room to talk moves and trades than normal. This means if you think you have an idea on a way the Lakers can shed salary, discuss. However, if you have a way to bring in a backup PG you like but the Lakers take on three years of big salary, you’ll be shut down/edited/cut. Remember, Mitch’s mandate is to cut salary this season, and the discussion here will be along those lines.

  3. I felt like I was was one of the few people who thought the Artest move ‘might’ be a good one before it happened. I feel like I am on an island again when it comes to Mr. Dunk.

    Brown is fun to watch because of his athleticism. He is a You Tube clip waiting to happen. BUT – I don’t see that he is vital to the team in any way. I was excited about him earlier in the year, but I actually think the more I see, the less I like. I’d be in favor of moving him if a good offer comes along.

    *bows head and waits for the slaps to commence*

  4. Zephid, great summary of the conditions and possibilities.

    Although I would love to be surprised by a magic wave of the wand, I think the chances of reprising a Vlad type deal for Ammo’s EC is nigh impossible. And your analysis shows that’s the only realistic piece that can be moved. I think the Fisher scenario is quite a stretch. If Mitch actually pulled off something like that he probably moves into all time great discussion.

    For all the bs and moaning we all did about Vlad, he had a proven above average NBA skill demonstrated over many years, his shooting. He consistently produced as a shooter. Not to mention his occasional breakout games where he contributes in other areas. Look at the GS game the other night. That will always tempt a GM who thinks it’s a piece they need.

    Ammo despite his rookie year, has not consistently shown an above average skill, nor enough of an all around game to be a solid role player. Even his rookie year, his FG% was low. That’s not to say he can’t get there given the chance and game time to work back from his injury. I’m still in shock as to how JJ Redick has managed to transform his body and game so that he’s not a defensive liability while still retaining his shooting stroke. He’s contributing far more than most people thought he would after having his flaws be exposed early in his career.

    Ammo could potentially still turn it around. But in this climate, I don’t know if any GM is willing to take on that kind of salary for a faint hope. It’s more likely someone signs him for a minimum next year and a chance to prove that he can contribute.

    I’ve said it repeatedly in past posts, I think Phil is giving Ammo lots of chances to regain his shooting stroke in game conditions. Ammo regaining that stroke in the next two months is probably the best scenario for Mitch and the team. It might be enough to tempt someone to gamble on him especially if you include the EC. Then maybe Mitch could find another athletic jewel in the rough. If a deal can’t be made, then at least the club has that situational shooter they want.

    That’s why I’ve been watching the taco unit and Ammo a lot closer. I think he’s the wildest card in the deck right now. To a large extent, everyone knows what they’re going to get from the rest of the bench, farmar, brown, sasha (sadly), etc. Ammo is the one unknown variable. We still don’t know if he’ll continue being a non factor or regain enough of his shooting stroke to be at least a situational shooting threat.

  5. No head slapping here.

    Another reason not to trade Fish. He came here specifically to be closer to UCLA Med Center for his daughter. I can’t imagine trading him away would look good in any way.

    Yeah, team first and all. Just sayin’.

  6. How do scenarios like the hypothetical Fisher one work? Would it be an under the table thing against league rules but still agreed upon prior to the trade so we can have some assurance he’ll be waived?

  7. Don, presumably this is how it works:

    1. Team X sends us a player we desire (probably with a multi-year contract they don’t want to pay), in exchange for Fisher, perhaps in combination with some other player(s).

    2. Team X proceeds to buy out Fisher. What this amount is depends on Fisher and Team X, which will probably save Team X some money.

    3. Fisher waits 30 days, peruses his options, and then hopefully re-signs with LA.

    There are no guarantees in this process. However, as ladlal said, Fisher’s daughter has some sort of rare melanoma, so Fisher will definitely go to some place that can treat her, LA being one of them. All these actions have to be approved by the league, and in turn can be rejected by the league, which is what happened when Jerry Stackhouse mouthed off about taking 30 days off before re-signing with Dallas.

  8. Great breakdown, Zephid. I guess this shows the unlikelihood of a move, and I like it that way.

    The Fisher thing just seems unlikely because he doesn’t have many tangible skills left, and so any team trading for him would likely be trying to shed salary. Two teams trading to shed salary usually doesn’t work out. [I'll edit this myself because I think it's reasonable, but doesn't involve shedding salary unless Fish re-signs for the minimum].

    But I’m glad it looks like we’ll be finishing the year with this team. Powell and Mbenga are top-notch for 3rd-stringers and Ammo and Sasha are top-notch for comedy. Every player has his place, and it’s not always smart to shake things up.

  9. So in summation, trading is bleak. Gotcha.

  10. Buss and Mitch made their own beds with the Sasha and Luke contracts, and by stupidly not voiding Radman’s contract after the snowboarding incident (although we got WOW out of it, so I’m happy about that)

  11. I disagree that Farmar’s play of late saves him from a potential trade scenario. Based on his performance in the last two years, his attitude last year, ShamWow’s emergence, and the fact that Farmar is likely gone next year (I don’t see him coming back to LA for the minimum), I think the discussion should center on Ammo AND Farmar. However, adding Farmar to the mix only helps to strenghten the argument above that finding any trading partner for expiring EC’s would be nearly impossible.

    Edited for trade speculation

  12. Sorry.

    It is pretty much impossible to cut current year salaries as normally the two team’s packages must be within 15% of contract values. 15% savings (30% with luxury tax) is almost not worth the effort. You can only try to cut future salaries like what the Grizzlies did by trading Pau (and undid by trading for Zack!)

    The options are

    1. Trade financial assets (short term liability) for basketball asset ( long-term liability)

    2. Trade basketball asset (long-term liability) for financial asset.

    3. Let your expiring contract expire. (As Portland did with the Raef LaFrentz contract)

    Whether it is Kurt Thomas/Bruce Bowen for Richard Jefferson or Kwame for Pau. The model is clear.

    The scenario that a team under the cap trades for a basketball asset with nothing more than picks almost never happens (I would say never, but the LAL-Bucks trade that brought Kareem kinda fits this mold – although way before the current CBA, of course)

    If the Lakers want to shed salary, #2 is the play. Unfortunately, the Lakers have no basketball assets it wants to give up that any other team would want to trade a financial asset for.*

    This year, however, the smart play would be #1. Trade Ammo + any other tradeable asset for talent. The luxury tax looms. Many teams are seeing 60% attendance rates. The number of true talent available at the deadline this year will be unprecedented.

    In another thread closer to the deadline, Kurt permitting, we should look at the talent that might be on offer.

    At the end of the year, Ammo, Powell, Fisher, and Mbenga come off the books. Total salaries go from 91.3M to 83.9. So there is potential to sign a player who is at around 7M per and maintain current financial status. This player can be the card that tranforms the current full house that is the Lakers to a four of a kind.

    Jerry has always been a gambler and also had the long view. When all others are folding, you go all-in.

    * The Vladi trade is the exception that confirms the rule.

  13. And just to be clear Kurt, are we talking about overall payroll for this year alone or is Dr.Buss unwilling to take on any longer salary commitments? Ammo’s 6 mill EC could become very enticing to say Toronto or Washington if they continue to under-perform massively.

  14. @Bill :But doesn’t being over the luxury tax preclude us from using anything other than our exceptions (i.e mid-level, bi-annual, vet min) to sign players? Or am I missing something here?

  15. I agree with the last line completely. They said it was impossible to move Juwan Howard’s contract, and it got moved *twice*. I would’ve laughed if you told me that *two* teams would give up future All-Stars for Kwame Brown. What I mean is, a lot of things can happen in the NBA. I don’t think it’s a given that the Lakers don’t get a gift deal, or they don’t make a dramatic change involving one of the starters, for example.

    I think a more likely scenario is Kupchak trading a superior player that’s more expensive for someone worse but cheaper on a non-tax paying team. This may or may not requiring the Lakers parting with cash, but would have the benefit of doubling the salary difference due to the tax.

  16. I quashed discussion of trading for Raja Bell. There are no reasons that I can find to believe that Bell would accept a buy out, so let’s stop there.

  17. Although I am staunchly anti-Raja Bell, fair enough Zephid. Your post, your call.

  18. Anand,
    Only if we acquire players through trade. That is why teams must trade for approximately equal value in “basketball or financial assets”, as Bill put it. We can’t sign an additional player through any means other than an exception, but we can trade for one.

  19. 12, Bill, I think you’re forgetting that the Lakers need to have a minimum of 13 players on the roster. If we just let Fisher, Ammo, Powell, Mbenga, and Farmar all walk, we’ll need to sign 5 players to fill out the roster using only the Mid-Level Exception and minimum contracts. So assuming we re-sign Powell, Mbenga, and Fisher all for the minimum, we’d have somewhere around $86 mil for payroll. Add in 2 more minimum contracts, and that’s $88 mil without using the Mid-Level. Who knows, we may also lose ShanWOW to free agency if he opts out and some team throws $3mil a year at him.

    Assuming we sign an impact player for the Mid-Level a la Artest, we’d have $93 mil in salary. With the luxury tax level decreasing, possibly 4-5 mil, that could mean close to $30 million in luxury tax payments. Absolutely no way that’s going to happen.

    Also, Larry Coon’s FAQ tells me that salaries only need be within 125% of one another, plus $100,000. So it is possible to trade a $4 mil player for a $5.1 mil player. This could add up to %50 savings with luxury tax, and that’s a pretty sizeable chunk of change when the starting salary is $5 mil.

  20. 1. morrison is gone at or before the end of this year; he leaves the league

    2. sasha is gone when his contract expires (end of next year i think); he has 0 trade value and also leaves the league

    3. fisher retires or takes a substantial cut in salary and minutes, after this season

    4. farmar is traded away at or before end of this season, we get a journeyman in return; i.e. improved value at same salary cost

    5. luke is gone when his contract expires, or when his body craps out for good – -which ever comes first

    looks to me like the team will be shedding salary steadily, one contract at a time, for the next couple of years

  21. The Showtime Lakers are the only team I can think of – excepting the 60’s Celtics, of course – that had an incredibly deep and talented team. That was well before the current CBA.

    I could see the Lakers being able to trade for a really valuable player at the trade deadline this year — I just can’t see much possibility that the Buss family could actually afford to do this. They would have to have pockets as deep as the Yankees.

  22. 10 of that 91 million dollars = Sasha and Ammo. I can understand why Buss would want to shed a little of that.

    I also understand why others wouldn’t want a piece of that, but one never knows. You know that Toronto would be willing to take on Sasha. He’s european shooting specialist! Meanwhile why wouldn’t Larry Bird want the next Larry Bird on his squad??

    I can’t think of what we might get back and how it would save us any money, I’m just sayin…

  23. Wow, Fish is already dispensable?

    Let’s not forget his big shots in the Finals, even after an entire season of people doubting him, or even his big shot JUST last game!

    Shannon and Farmar are two back up point guards that I feel we need. Since PJ is trying to save Fish’s legs (ha, fish have no legs!), SB and Farmar will get extended playing time. Now, for example, we trade away Farmar, then who will guard the faster point guards? Same for SB in regards to stronger point guards.

    As mentioned, nobody wants Sasha. Hell, it looks like even the Lakers don’t want him. And no other team is willing to gamble on the slight possibility that Morrison may actually be fit to play in this league. To be honest, from what I have seen, Morrison doesn’t not belong in the league at his current level of skill. Perhaps he can somehow improve a la Reddick, perhaps not.

    In conclusion, the only players that warrant a trade right now are Sasha and Ammo. Farmar and SB have been playing well and better lately, and Fish, in my opinion, should be an untouchable. We wanted to see Farmar improve his gameplay, and has he not done just that so far? I understand this is a business, and it’s not my money, but I hope the Buss family is a little more appreciative of Fish than some of you here. Honestly, if Fish is traded, what else can he do but retire?

  24. Couldn’t the Lakers just buy-out Sascha’s (or Ammo’s) contract for less than what’s it’s worth and wish him the best of luck in getting playing time with another team? Granted, they’ll only save a marginal amount and not get anything in return, but if Mitch decides that one (or both) of these guys is(are) dead weight then it might be the best they can do if there are no takers.

  25. Jman,
    I think people are just hungry for change. They might actually be getting bored with this team – and after Friday night they should be ashamed. Some kind of ‘fly in the ointment’ part of the human makup.

  26. That was a good read.

    Why isn’t farmar more of a trade asset though? He has traditional PG skills that fit better outside the triangle.. Speed, athleticism, decent shooting, great decent work ethic.. not to mention an expiring (?) contract and can be resigned since the other team also acquires his bird rights. It wouldn’t be too difficult to trade him for a player with skills that better fit the triangle.. a more defensive-minded PG who can knock down the wide open shot. Sure he’s been playing better as of late.. but sell high and buy low right?

    Speaking of buying low.. I don’t think sasha is entirely unmovable.. Its really a matter of what the lakers are willing to take back in return. For eg package him w/farmar and take on additional salary to give the other team incentive to do the trade..

  27. 23, interesting, considering no one has said that Fish is dispensable.

  28. I don’t see any of this happening.

    The realistic conclusion to draw from this is this: we’re not adding any more players, and growth will have to come from within.

    Unless of course we find some truly desperate GM who wants change for the sake of change.

  29. The Lakers are the defending world champions. They are 15-3. They have the best record in the Association. They have past and future all-stars at 4 of 5 starting positions. They are beating good teams and blowing out bad teams.

    Let’s just enjoy the moment.

  30. thisisweaksauce December 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    About the Taco Unit:

    They need to practice together. Last time, against the Hornets, they clearly had no feel for each other as a group. Also, some suggestions for them that could become their bread and butter:

    Run some pick and pop with a guard (Farmar?) and Powell during some of the half court sets. I know this is going away from the triangle, but that unit doesn’t quite have the personnel to run it as well as the first. Powell can shoot the long jumper pretty well. Possible disadvantage: Powell isn’t there to grab some boards.

    A lot of penetration with Farmar. The guy can create looks for himself, and this can build his confidence. Another plus, he can dish out to Ammo or Sasha if the defense collapses. Sasha needs to be shooting wide open looks only, not off the dribble.

    Tell Mbenga not to shoot unless he’s in point blank range or completely wide open. The guy doesn’t have a post up game. Just have him play the role of the post man in the triangle who can dish out.

    Also, Ammo needs to try to score. That’s what he is, a scorer. Just pass (especially during penetration) if it’s a kick out to Sasha, Farmar, or Powell for an open look.

    Get out on the open court. That’s where they thrive (like the bench mob of 07-08). Half-court offense is where they kinda struggle. (Haha, the previous suggestions were about half-court offense.)

    Have them know their roles. I hate it when I see Powell trying to post up (or Mbenga for that matter) – he needs to be shooting jumpers (mid-range or long, off the pick and roll/pop). Or Sasha shooting off the dribble (or with a hand in his face). Or Farmar becoming simply an outside shooter. Or Ammo trying to distribute; he can score (however awkward looking). Mbenga needs to only attempt put backs, open dunks, or really close lay-ins on offense; his focus should be on D, especially blocking and rebounding.

    Those are my suggestions. Do you guys have other ones for the Taco Unit? Any you disagree with?

  31. the other Stephen December 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    “Oden felt bad enough that Brandon Roy said, “He looked at me and he was like, ‘Sorry,’ and put his head down.” He also was asking for score updates while being carted off for his MRI. ”

    this really is sad. i don’t want to see a quick recovery as much as i want to see him come back stronger and better than before.

  32. Sedale… If only things worked that way. You have to remember that the Lakers signed those guy’s contracts, just as the players did.

    These were two-way agreements, so put yourself in Sasha or Adam’s shoes and ask yourself if you’d be willing to forgoe even $1 of what may be your last NBA deal in order to help out an owner who’ll be making money in the NBA long after you’re off doing whatever comes after basketball.

    I’m sure Mitch would love to do things differently in terms of Sasha’s deal, but there’s no way Sasha would take a lesser amount to void his deal. He’s a head case, but no one is that dumb.

    And before we pile on Mitch for inking Sasha to that deal, let’s remind ourselves of what the situation was at that time: Vujacic was a young shooter who seemed to have turned a corner. Phil trusted him enough to play key minutes, fourth quarter minutes, on a team that went to the Finals and had (still doesn’t) no good option on the roster for replacing his outside shooting off the bench. Mitch made the right move; it’s Sasha’s fault that he’s failed to live up to what Mitch thought he was buying.

  33. We also have to remember that everyone from 2004-2008 was getting overpaid. Sasha’s performance in 2007-08 was akin to Ariza’s performance in 2008-09. Was he worth $15 mil over 3 years? Probably not, but he wasn’t worth much less. At the time it was really a choice between Sasha and Turiaf. With Bynum coming back, Turiaf was going to get squeezed out of the rotation, while Sasha was a valuable back-up at both guard positions. No one could’ve predicted that Sasha would fall so far so fast.

    Similarly with Luke, he was our third best player in 2006-2007, averaging 11.4 points, 5 boards, and 4.3 assists per game. It was probably a mistake to sign him for 5 years, but getting him for $5 mil per year was a bargain at the time.

  34. Actually getting rid with Morrison’s contract is quite simple.

    1. Wait till the half of the year (for example).
    2. Sell him with $3M to OKC for conditional #2.

    $3M cover more than 50% of Morrison’s contract – so OKC has some cash income (Morrison will earn $5.25M this season, so assuming the trade will happen after 41 games they will have to pay $2.625, which will net them +$375k – for nothing, they could buy Morrison out day after the trade).

    Lakers will have to pay $2.625M of Morrison salary + $3M = $5.625M, more than Morrison’s salary. BUT they will save $5.25M of the salary tax, so instead of paying $10.5M (salary plus tax) they would end paying $5.6M, which would net them cool $4.9M.

    A win-win trade. The sooner it will happen (and it will, I guarantee you), the more Lakers will save. From OKC (or some other team with enough space cap/TPE) point of view the best solution is to wait till the trade deadline – then their earnings would be max.

  35. Re: ShanWow’s Production

    Brown plays significantly better at PG and with the starting unit. I have been reading over the last week a lot of readers here have been noticing he really isn’t providing much aside from the once a game highlight. You are both right and wrong. Playing back up SG with the 2nd unit takes away Shannon’s strengths and exacerbates his weakness’. The normal advantage he has vs PG’s with his size and athleticism is gone playing against bigger SG’s. Brown also has to try and create more offense for himself with the 2nd unit something he and Fisher have a hard time doing for PG’s. However, as you all saw last playoffs Shannon plays very effectively using his size, strength, and athleticism on defense against PG’s, he also uses his athleticism perfectly as a PG playing along side the starters… moving off the ball and cutting to the basket. So its hard to really judge ShanWow as an undersized backup SG. Mitch and the Lakers know this.

  36. No one’s claimed that Fish is dispensable; all this talk hinges off being able to re-sign Fish after a buyout and waiting period. We all want Fish with us long-term.

    I also agree that we can’t criticize Mitch for the Sasha deal. Sasha was an assassin in 2008, and saved an entire Finals game for us. Most of us here would have given the exact same deal, with the market at the time…hindsight is 20-20.

    stephen – That’s exactly why I feel so bad. Partly for the Portland fans, but mostly for Oden himself. He puts so much pressure on himself to do well, he must be devastated. I hope this doesn’t damage him mentally.

    Sedale – I think there’s no chance Sasha agrees to a buy-out. He knows he’ll never get the same contract, and may very well be out of the league if he takes a buyout. A buyout is like sex – it requires consent on both sides.

  37. Nice writeup Zephid, I was wondering about all of the different options available when I heard Mitch say he wanted to reduce salary. It does not look like there are very many options available that are feasable to us, but then you never know what may happen. Yeah, we do have to have 13 players on the roster, huh? I think Mbenga and Powell will stay on at the minimum and Fisher would re-sign for alot less (min?) than what he is now making in the future. For Sasha, we are just stuck with him IMO, until his contract ends next season (2011). Like you said, at the time it did not seem like a bad deal, a shooter to give Kobe rest and who used to be a fairly good one, at one time at least.

  38. RE: 34

    TRad nailed it. We can all conjure up magical trade scenarios, but the truth of the matter is, the only real option the Lakers have to cut salary is to give Morrison the old Mihm treatment.

    I say there’s about a 75% chance of Morrison getting traded with cash for a conditional second rounder to OKC or Memphis (prob Memphis, who have shown in the past they’re up for taking the money). The net savings of $5M for the Lakers is too good to pass up….and let’s face it, Morrison is NOT an NBA calibur player.

  39. As a follow up, Sasha is so radioactive that my guess is he’s a laker for the next two years (after which he signs a contract to play in Europe).

    Can you imagine being Mitch offering up Sasha to another GM?

    “Hi, would you care for a “shooter” who can’t shoot, picks up cheap fouls like they’re going out of style, and spends his time on the bench pouting and bitching about playing time? In fact, he’s so unlikeable, the teams fans actually booed him during the championship parade. Might that interest you? Hey, he comes with Maria Sharapova…does that sweeten the deal at all? Hello? Are you still there?”

  40. In conclusion to the article, the lakers have to just wait it out until the season is over.

    Fisher isn’t going anywhere. Phil won’t even cut his minutes down. Fisher is making 5 million this year, he’s going to have to sign for the vets minimum at about 1.1 million (going to cost the lakers 2 million because of luxury tax). Shannon and Farmar have been playing much better lately. Their roles are becoming clearer, Shannon’s a two guard, Farmars a 1. I wouldn’t trade either of them because they can continue to grow and be really good contributors off the bench. If farmar doesn’t pan out they don’t have to resign him. And get a guard for cheap or for some of the mid level exception.

    So if we just say fisher and ammo’s contracts are doubled because of the luxury tax, that means we(we lol… JERRY BUSS) is paying 20 million for those two. The lakers should be able to save just about all of that by letting Ammo go and resigning fisher to the vets minimum.

    Luke…the lakers are just stuck with his 5 million a year for the next 4 years. They are stuck with sasha as well and may be able to move him next year because he’ll be in the last year of his contract.

    Last but not least, the real question should be…should kobe resign for less than a max contract? That can possibly save the lakers as well. I initially said no because he deserves all the money he’s making, but if his teammates are going to prove year after year they can win a title, then he should.

  41. “Similarly with Luke, he was our third best player in 2006-2007, averaging 11.4 points, 5 boards, and 4.3 assists per game. It was probably a mistake to sign him for 5 years, but getting him for $5 mil per year was a bargain at the time.” -Zephid

    Almost identical to what artest has done so far. Except luke did it before he got paid, ron is doing it after.

  42. Only thing I can think of is to trade Vujacic for a 1 year contract of similiar value and use Mihm’s trade exception to pick up another $2.5 million expiring contract. If I got this right it would cost the Lakers $5 million this year but save $10 million next year. They’d still have to fill the roster spot next year reducing the saving to about $3 million. The likely trade partner would have to be about $2.5 million over the cap and not looking to enter the market next year.

    All that being said I think the most likely scenario is just letting Fisher and Ammo’s contracts expire. Resigning Fisher if he does not retire for the minimum and filling Ammo’s roster spot through the draft.

  43. Snoopy, not EVERYONE wants Fish around long-term, ironic how your post came just after somebody who probably doesn’t ;)

    Since it’s not really my $91 million, I’m cool with the team as is. It’s not as if we’re in dire need of talent, I can picture about 25 teams who would love to have our talent and our problems.

    So, to reiterate, to rehash, and to be very redundant, this is how I see the Lakers being:

    1. We’re good
    2. But Buss can’t be happy about paying $91 million…
    3. But we’re good, so it’s somewhat mollified.
    4. Still, $91 mil is $91 mil…
    5. So we kinda want to shed some salary, but not really seeking any talent in return, so unless LeBron is miraculously available or something, I don’t see us trading for talent.
    6. We’re definitely not desperate enough to shed talent to get rid of salary.

    So… like mentioned earlier, unless somebody really sees some promise in Sasha that we haven’t, I don’t see us getting too far other than Morrison being given away like Mihm.

  44. harold – lmao I missed that. You’d think I would have remembered, but he’s done a good job of playing nice lately.

    Stupid question – what’s in it for Memphis, taking on Morrison or Mihm’s contracts? Obviously there must be some incentive because they did it with Mihm. But if they’re a cheap team, why would they take on an extra contract they won’t use?

    Now that I think about it…didn’t we essentially pay Memphis the $2 mil for Mihm’s contract last year? And then we saved the $2 in luxury tax payments because Memphis was under the cap. If that’s true, then I guess I just answered my own question. Awfully nice of the Grizzlies to do it for no real benefit, just to help out Buss.

  45. Good read!

    Although I would love us to get someone better to replace ammo or sasha (or farmar), I would prefer to keep this team until after this season ends (with the lakers as a repeat world champion of course)
    Reason being, our triangle offense.
    It might be too tough for any guards in the league to learn triangle offense in the middle of the season. Guard positions in triangle offense is the most complex position, IMO.

    So I think it would be better if we just eat up the expiring contract at the end of this season. (Although some trade scenario like we did last year with Mihm should be good also, as long as we don’t take any new player in return this season – draft picks are totally welcome though)

  46. I tried to be as subtle as I could, but I understand if I’m censored.

    1. Because they’re both triangle teams, I think Minnesota and LA are natural trading partners.

    2. I don’t think OKC will make a free agent splash this summer; next summer, they’ll have more than enough cap space to make a run at Joakim Noah and/or Al Horford.

    3. I thought Hollinger hit it right on the head: Roy struggled playing with Oden, who clogged the paint. On the one hand, there will be a delay in developing chemistry between them; on the other hand, they will actually improve on the offensive end. So, I think they’re still a playoff team.

    4. DJ Augustine is in Larry Brown’s doghouse.

  47. 34, TRad, that’s a great point. The later we trade, the less the receiving team will have to eat in salary, so it may be more amicable to them. However, I doubt that any intelligent team will help the Lakers out for a palty $350k. A smart team like OKC will charge the Lakers a first rounder or such for shaving almost $5 mil off the Lakers expense sheet.

    40, Joel, if Kobe signs a max new contract (not an extension; It has to be a Bird exception contract after hitting free agency), he will be the highest paid player in any single season, ever. By my calculations, the maximum 10.5% raises each year will bring Kobe up to some $33.6 million in 2013-14, right before Kobe turns 36 and hits the Over-36 barrier. I would be willing to bet that Kobe knows this and wants this.

    44, Snoopy, Memphis took on Mihm’s contract because they wanted his size off the bench. Since they were under the cap, and the Lakers paid them some $2-3 mil, they basically got a back-up big man for free for a season.

  48. Btw, anyone been checking out how well Chris Douglas-Roberts has been playing? He’s averaging 16 points, 5 boards a game. He may actually now be better off having been drafted in the 2nd round. His contract is one year shorter and only about $300k less than a late first-round pick, so he may be able to sign a lucrative big contract earlier than his peers.

  49. Hey, there is a game tonight, is there not? Are we going to have a post for it?

  50. don’t we have a game tonight? game preview?

  51. Suns preview finally up. I was engaged hanging Christmas lights outside the house and was up on a ladder too long.

  52. The obvious Lakers in play for trade are Ammo and Jordan–both expiring contracts. There will be cap space opportunities to trade them for talented players (most likely a player and a “fill”) with two years remaining on their contract (who would become expiring contracts next year)–but it would not be a good way to shed costs.

    I don’t see either Derek or Sasha in play for trade at all.