Taking an Asset Inventory

Darius Soriano —  May 7, 2013

Building a team is as much about the assets you have as the ones you hope to obtain. You want more shooters? How about a lock down wing defender? What about a hustling big man who does all the dirty work or a shot creator from the back court who can generate offense when the shot clock is winding down?

Join the club, everyone wants more of those things. And with a high demand for players with those skill sets, getting them is easier than simply asking.

In order to get those types of players you need assets to obtain them. Be it trade pieces or the salary cap space (or exceptions as an over the cap team), you need to give something to get something. The Lakers, meanwhile, don’t have a lot of assets to work with to get the skill sets they’d like to add to the roster. That means the ones they do have need to be used carefully and maximized if the team hopes to take a step forward rather than simply treading water (or even taking another step back).

In an attempt to gauge how the Lakers will move forward this off-season, it’s best to look at some of their most valuable assets (while speculating how they might be deployed) and how they can contribute to building a viable contender next season. Let’s get to it…

1. Dwight Howard’s Bird Rights. The Lakers’ chief goal this off-season is to sign Dwight Howard to a new long term contract, ensuring he’s a Laker for the next 5 seasons. As the team that holds his Bird Rights, they have a financial leg up on any free agent suitor simply because they can offer him a 5 year deal (as opposed to the 4 year deal any other team can offer) and can give him larger annual raises than any other team. If you’re looking for the best reason Dwight will be wearing a Lakers’ jersey next season, this is it. Players rarely leave money on the table in free agency. (Sidenote, before you say LeBron, Wade, and Bosh took less money understand that both LeBron and Bosh were signed and traded to Miami. And while they did take less per season to move to South Beach, they did use their Bird Rights to get the larger raises those rights afforded them in their new contracts. This stuff matters.)

I’ve no clue how much those larger raises and the extra year would matter to Dwight Howard. There’s an argument to be made that he’s still so young that he could recoup that extra year on his next contract and not lose a penny of salary over the life of his career. However, it’s also important to note that when Dwight’s next contract expires, teams will have a much better understanding of how the new collective bargaining agreement affects team building and roster construction. The 5th year on the contract the Lakers will offer Dwight will be around $30 million. Will another team really pay him that much a season heading into a new contract with CBA negotiations on the horizon? This is just one variable Dwight will need to consider and taking the bird in the hand may be better than seeking the two in the bush 4 years from now.

2. Pau Gasol. We touched on this briefly already, but it bears repeating: Pau Gasol is the Lakers’ best trade asset and will be treated as such. Whether that actually leads to a trade is another story entirely. As we all know, Pau was traded once already in the deal that shall not be named. The key to that deal, however, was that the Lakers were getting the best player in the trade. Ninety-nine percent of the time when that’s the case you win the deal.

A trade of Gasol this summer wouldn’t be nearly as clear cut. The Lakers would likely be seeking multiple pieces who better fit the style they want to play. When you trade one player for multiple players, the odds of you receiving the best player go down dramatically. For the Lakers, they’d have to measure whether depth is more important than a player who still has great talent when deployed in a manner that maximizes his skills. They also need to gauge whether they’ll be able to actually deploy him in that manner considering the rest of the talent already on the roster.

Further complicating a Gasol trade is the idea that the Lakers would like the opportunity to reload their roster in the summer of 2014. Pau’s expiring contract (as well as Kobe’s) is a key part of that plan. Would the Lakers forfeit some of that financial flexibility for the right trade? What type of piece would they be willing to add on in that scenario? How much would they be willing to pay that piece?

The answers to these questions are unknown to us, but they will shape whatever decision the front office makes on Gasol.

3. Jordan Hill. I think most Lakers’ fans really like Hill (I know I do). He’s a hard worker who knows his role on both ends of the floor. He’s really come into his own in recent seasons and finds a way to contribute to the success of the team. I don’t think many people would be happy to see him go considering his style of play and his affordable salary. That said, the same things that make him a desirable player on the Lakers make him an asset to other teams.

Many of the same questions about Gasol apply to Hill. His contract expires at the end of next season. And while there’s some positional and skill overlap between Hill and Dwight, the value of keeping him on the roster is real. That said, if he could be flipped for a better fitting piece on the wing or in the backcourt I’d think the Lakers explore that option. Of course Hill is coming off a major injury and though he returned early there will be lingering questions about his health until he proves he can perform at his pre-injury level. But, Hill has value and that can’t be overlooked when thinking about what next year’s team (and beyond) will look like.

4. The mini-mid level exception. Because the Lakers are a tax paying team, they don’t have the full mid-level exception available to them. This puts them at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to acquiring those players who are definite contributors but who may require a bigger salary than the veteran’s minimum. The mini-mid level is around $3 million per season and, just as the full mid-level, can be broken up in order to sign multiple players. (The Lakers used part of their mini-mid level last season to sign Jodie Meeks after his agent made it clear he wouldn’t sign for the minimum.)

At this stage of the off-season, it’s difficult to say who would be available to the Lakers at this contract price. However, every year there are players who end up taking less on the market than you’d think they’re worth simply because the demand for their services isn’t as high as originally thought. That said, whether the Lakers are willing to use their full mini-mid level remains to be seen. Last year Mitch Kupchak hinted that they may not use this exception at all, only to use part of it to sign Meeks. If the team takes that same approach this off-season, they may not find a good market of players who would take less than the already reduced amount they can offer as a tax paying team.

5. Players w/ non-guaranteed contracts. The NBA trade market isn’t just about acquiring talent. Sometimes it’s also about cutting salary by trading away one of their own players for a player who has an non-guaranteed deal in order to waive that player for salary savings. Next season, Chris Duhon’s contract is only partially guaranteed. This instantly makes him a candidate to be traded to another team for a player whose contract is of similar value (but runs longer) so he could then be waived at a cost savings. (Note: if the Lakers don’t trade Duhon, he’s also a candidate to be waived outright so the Lakers could get those savings on his contract.)

The larger point in all this is that the Lakers are working with a limited number of assets when trying to improve their team. And, even with those assets, there are caveats and circumstances that must be taken into account when thinking about how those can be deployed on the court or flipped on the market for different (and maybe better fitting) pieces. It’s not so simple to say the Lakers should “just do X” because there are too many moving parts that affect how the team should move forward depending on the status of the assets listed above.

This is why whether or not you like Dwight Howard, think he’s a max player, or any other misgivings you have about him are irrelevant. He’s a key asset in helping the Lakers build a viable roster in the short and the long term. Signing him is important just for that reason. Not to mention Dwight’s status could affect what the Lakers do with Pau or Hill, who they target in free agency, or whether or not cost cutting moves become a priority. The same can be said of how Pau’s status affects Hill and so on and so forth.

We have a long summer to try and sort these things out, but the starting point is clear. In order to obtain assets you need assets to work with. The Lakers, for all their top end talent and high payroll, don’t have as many assets that you’d think. How this affects them remains to be seen, but it is the reality of the situation.

Darius Soriano

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37 responses to Taking an Asset Inventory

  1. Great summary, thanks for laying this out.
    Regarding DH, I’m not as big of a fan. I do understand he was recovering from a very serious operation. Defensively he is amazing and we didn’t get to see the complete package. But I was very surprised at how limited he is offensively. He really needs to work on his offensive game and not just free throws. Still, I agree we should sign him as he is a very valuable player to build around.
    I just hope he realizes how important it is to let the Lakers know his intentions as soon as possible, especially if he decides to stay. LA needs as much time as possible to explore all options, even if nothing really happens until July.

  2. Great write up. One could say the biggest asset Lakers have is the 2014 cap. Problem is besides LeBron there isn’t much there in the unrestricted FA class. The younger guys are restricted and it may take more than cap space to pry them away from their teams if they should be dealt. The older unrestricted guys are possible but aren’t building blocks. A few have opt outs as well and may take less on a team already constructed for contention.

    Unrestricted
    LeBron James
    Dwayne Wade
    Paul Pierce
    Luol Deng
    Dirk Nowitzki
    Rodney Stuckey
    Andrew Bogut
    Danny Granger
    Kobe Bryant
    Pau Gasol
    Zach Randolph
    Carmelo Anthony
    Kyle Lowry
    Rudy Gay

    Restricted
    John Wall
    DeMarcus Cousins
    Eric Bledsoe
    Paul George
    Greg Monroe
    Avery Bradley

  3. darius: bar coding, database configuration, preventative maintenance and workflow charting come to mind when asset inventory is the topic of conversation. granted, if only it were that simple to come up with a solution to the plight currently facing front office situation: to keep or not to keep the core of the starting five divided by dwight howard’s predisposition for a decision. like a missing jigsaw piece, do you wait until the piece is found or do you begin to put the puzzle together relying on the chance the piece will be procured later?

    like mitch kupchak said, when you lose, everything’s in play. and therein lies the clue to the upcoming future of laker fate. and the rules are, there are no rules when it comes to winning nor any one single solution to a attaining a championship. for today’s nba, it takes a village. a village of very good players divided by the collective bargaining agreement. we may need a PhD in finance to come up with a fiscally responsible combination and/or a willing group of fellow nba teams, for example to trade the net worth of a pau gasol for someone(s) of value for the lakers.

    because of these factors, i can see the core coming back next season. saying that, i keep my fingers crossed that:

    a. that kobe bryant returns timely and healthy
    b. the core stays relatively healthy
    c. we are able to add a new starting small forward to the core.

    asset inventory can be a little tricky sometimes and i don’t envy the front office. fly on the wall right about now would prove to be interesting.

    Go Lakers

  4. Darius _ I think you have a double post on the morning links. If I can make a suggestion, delete the newest one and leave this post at the top of the page. There’s so much good stuff here to discuss and I would hate for this discussion to be buried.

  5. With all the moving pieces at the top of the talent puzzle, the Lakers still need to field 13 players, come November. That means we probably need to keep Morris, Goudelock, Clark, and perhaps even Sacre. These are young players with athleticism and we will need them to balance the roster and in case of multiple injuries. They are known quantities and we can plan around that, but they should come near the minimum.

    That leaves us with 9 players (Kobe, Pau, Nash, MWP, Blake, Duhon, Hill + Howard and a team option on Meeks). That really isn’t a lot to work with and if we loose Howard we really can’t trade Pau – regardless what I have said previously.

    I don’t think we have a choice other than patience.

  6. It’s a start, but there are quite a few more components to the inventory which might be assets and liabilities. We need to consider the front office–especially Jimmy, Mitch, and Mike. Mike, in particular, must be considered, since his salary is not part of the salary cap, and he could be fired or replaced at any time. It’s easier to fire a coach, justified or not, than to replace a team. Decisions about Jimmy and Mitch would seem to be tied to the performance of the team during the season, but a failure to sign Dwight might speed up the process.

    Adding to the list of players, we need to consider the two Steves, and Darius frontcourt. Any or all might be traded. Goudelock seems sure to come back. Jodie Meeks seems highly likely to come back, but he could be traded.

    Frontcourt, MWP might com back, be amnestied, opt out, or be traded.

    In addition to players that have been mentioned, the Lakers might well have other players hidden away overseas that could fill out the roster. I would hope that the FO and Mike are watching the playoffs, and noticing that the Thunder were given a huge boost from mid season signed Derek Fisher. The Heat were playing Anderson signed at the last possible moment, San Antonio and Golden State were using everyone, and the Bulls were playing the last men standing. The proverbial short rotation used in the playoffs was not being deployed D’Antoni style by anyone.

    Finding and retaining assets while limiting or eliminating liabilities will continue well into next season.

  7. This is a great peace.

    One of the stupid things about the NBA is that it lets you spend a lot on one guy but not another. Let’s say the Lakers are going to pay the max to one guy this year. Why does the league care if it is Dwight Howard or Chris Paul? Both are free agents with the same basic price tag.

    I know it is related to Bird rights, but Bird rights don’t make any sense for a guy who was just traded. It is intended to keep franchise players in place, not make them easier to resign after a trade.

    If you have a guy who signs elsewhere for x dollars, you should be able to pay the same amount to another player. You shouldn’t be locked to only spending on that one guy, if you are allowed to spend it anyway.

    The rules are Byzantine. They should be streamlined. Mid-levels and mini-me’s and turd rights. Ugh.

  8. Tom,
    You can talk about the rules all you want, but they were negotiated in the CBA and the owners certainly held the upper hand, by far. Therefore, we fans have a hard time complaining that our front offices are handicapped by rules that the majority of the NBA franchises fought for. Somehow life is never clean or neat, but messy and complex. Just part of the ride. This is why there is such a premium on good GMs and people like Larry Coon.

    P.S. We humans seem determined to shoot ourselves in the foot. Unintended consequences always seem to bite us where it hurts the most.

  9. Craig, not taking a side or expecting them to change Just looking at the rules as they are and seeing that they are nonsensical. I don’t think it is anti player, anti team, anti Laker or anything. Just absurdity.

  10. Great posts on this thread. I also think all the cap space is slighty overrated because of what Miami did. It’s quite obvious there was a plan in place there and having 3 prime players made that plan all the more world wild. In our case there are no 26 year old franchise players who are unrestricted. One of the few positives is from a financial standpoint becoming a non tax paying team for the first time in a long time. So the most valuable asset is Pau and try to turn him into something other than cap space. Besides resigning Dwight that seems to be the only way to get the type of talent we all seek, young athletic players.

  11. I think in the end, Kobe’s plan of giving the team one more chance ends up being the most logical.

    Gasol’s contract, in my opinion, is most valuable to us as an expiring contract, and depending on how he performs, he could be a great sign-and-trade asset as well, which may hurt us financially, but would allow us to be more competitive.

    DH’s contract should be viewed the same; it’s an asset for us regardless of how we feel about him.

  12. The off season player additions and subtractions are secondary to the management getting their act together. Jim, Mitch, and whoever the coach will be need to go back to management 101 and write their vision and mission statements for the team. They need to agree on how the team will play and what it will look like over time. Then it will be possible to figure out the players they need. Right now, the team is schizophrenic between a pound it inside style and an opportunistic running attack. The defense allows players to roam sometimes and play close man to man at others. Sort all of this stuff out and then see what players would best fit into the offensive and defensive schemes.

  13. Darius,
    Excellent analysis. Like you, I’m a big Jordan Hill fan. He’s young, energetic, extremely mobile, one of the finest rebounders in the league (per minute), and is a strong defender (especially against the pick-and-roll).
    However, he’s also part of a glut at his position–Power Forward. As of this writing, the Lakers have 4 players at that one position–Gasol (who might or might not get traded), Hill himself, Antawn Jamison, and Earl Clark. (Yes, I realize that several of these can play the 5; but they’re primarily 4s.)
    As a result, I’m expecting some sort of action here–with the Power Forward position. I would dearly love to see Jordan Hill remain with the team. He has upside (I think), athleticism, youth, and a defensive mind set. But if the Lakers keep Pau–and I’m betting that they will–then I think that Jordan Hill’s days as a Laker could be numbered.
    The Lakers simply have too many needs elsewhere to accomodate that many Power Forwards at one time. Something has to give.

  14. Darius, I’ve been wondering about how the next CBA might effect Howard’s decision whether to sign with the Lakers for five years or elsewhere for four years, hoping to recoup later. I didn’t understand when reading your post above, would you please clarify: when will the next CBA be “negotiated”, will it be four seasons hence or five?

  15. Just glancing at the box score so can’t say I really have any idea what’s going on … but holy crap, it looks like Fisher is unloading INTANGIBLES all over the Grizzlies right now.

  16. Moved from other thread:

    The Lakers’ situation is very uncertain, but not really all that complex:

    If Howard stays…
    1. Shop Pau, see if the right kind of deal is out there. If not, keep him. The market for him will be hard to read. I could see him having a good year next year if utilized well; I could also see him continuing to have periodic breakdowns, playing about half the schedule, and being more or less useless. Given that, it is hard to know what other teams would give up.
    2. Try to sign a cheap wing player who can check 2s or 3s, has some quickness, is young, and can run the floor. The guys available like this will have almost no offensive value, given the Lakers’ budget, but that is not all that important. In simple terms, they need to find the guy that Ebanks was supposed to be.
    3. Try to sign a cheap combo guard who can D up some and not embarrass himself on O. He needs to be big enough to play with Blake or Nash in stretches and to be able to handle the ball well enough to play the 1 with Kobe–a CJ Watson-type player.
    4. Keep Clark; use him as a 15-18-minute energy D/rebounding guy who can play the 4 and also the 3 in short bursts.

    If Howard walks,,.

    I don’t see them blowing it up. I think they will just move Pau to the 5, and the rest of the to-do list from 2-4 will be the same.

    I think that they will probably amnesty Metta, unless Buss sees him as a small and vital piece to a run, which seems highly unlikely. The team needs more youth/athleticism and Kobe, Pau and Nash probably aren’t going anywhere. Metta is the guy to cut. They probably will not know enough about Kobe’s prognosis by the Amnesty decision deadline to factor that in (and they probably wouldn’t anyway).

  17. Rusty Shackleford May 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    You all should have heard Greg Papa rip Jarett Jack on the radio today. He was saying they need to upgrade for a combo guard. Lord let them! I will pay Jarret Jack both Steve Nash and Steve Blake’s salaries combined. That, and I will take Brandon Rush off their hands as well.

  18. How about Dfish tonight? Classic…we should play like Memphis next year we have most of the tools just need a couple pieces…Durant whines A LOT

  19. Time for Aaron and all blogosphere Laker critics of Derek Fisher to eat crow for the third consecutive playoff game.

    At this rate, the crows in California may go extinct.

  20. One thing to have in mind is that Lakers so called 2014 cap space is very illusory. Asuming Dwight is back and Kobe resigns in a deal similar to Duncan and KG current ones, team should have around 9m after all the holds (less if they use the mini MLE this summer), even if they use the stretch provision on Nash (a decent bet I’d say), they should have at best between 13-15m in cap space, which is good but is below max, so when someone in media says Lakers can make a run at Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony, they are either asuming Kobe is gone or don’t understand how cap holds function (BTW, most media guys doesn’t).

    A big thing here is that the decision to use or not the mini MLE this summer is an underrated major story, if Mitch decides to sign let’s say Mike Dunleavy to a 5m/2 year deal that pretty much kills even the smallest hope to sign a name bigger than Luol Deng in 2014’s summer.

  21. Quick question: my understanding is that we can’t sign & trade Howard because we’re over the cap. How long does that last? At what point could he be dealt if he re-signs? I’d go through Larry Coon’s site, but I’m on my phone and pressed for time!

    Just wondering if anyone knows the answer to this.

  22. drrayeye: Good point. Not only did we lose the “Kobe control” which “might” have prevented the injury, but we lost leadership, and obviously this guy was not done. Our season ending rotation at PG demonstrated how foolish letting Fish go was. Some of us “repeatedly” and “redundantly” pointed this out at the time.

  23. If I remember correctly, Fish’s defense was similar to a traffic cone, unless he was directly in front of the opposing player. Since he is a very smart player, this means he was most effective as an off ball player as he could suddenly appear and draw charges. However, his man was constantly getting into the heart of our defense – sound familiar anyone?

    His shooting was streaky and Kevin Durant is at the absolute top of his game – requiring several others to leave their men to help on him. He is in the middle of one of his streaks. When was the last time he scored 19 for us – and who exactly won that last game?

    I wasn’t one of the people who wanted Fish out, but I did see why he was traded when we got Sessions – we got Jordan Hill for him and I still don’t think that was a bad trade.

    He is exactly what OKC needs at this time, but how many of us think he would duplicate what he is doing for us – or that he would be the difference in us getting swept by the Spurs?

    This sounds like the “I hate the front office/ownership” kind of talk.

  24. Every guard we have (except Kobe) was a traffic cone. We could have had all of Fish’s advantages without any loss on D

    I do not hate the entire FO. Just certain corners of it :)

    And we did not need to get rid of Fish to get Sessions. It just happened at the same time. Not that Sessions was any great pick up anyway.

  25. I think a key thing to look at in the Griz-OKC series is that the Griz have been right there at the end of both games in OKC and were able to take the 2nd game after blowing the first one. This doesn’t seem to be a fluke and OKC may have some problems in Memphis.

  26. rr – excellent post
    (i´d read it the day before yesterday as well); a fine compliment to Darius´ article
    _____
    Congrats to DFish

  27. Lakers need to pull a rabbit out of their hat. There’s a 6’10” 290 lb center in Germany named John Bryant. He recently got serious about conditioning for first time and is a beast. Has played overweight until now and is the ultimate sleeper/late bloomer- think N.Pekovic with BBall skills. Someone going to get him, may as well be us, cheap too.

  28. Guizo makes a good point above. Unfortunately a major cause of the situation he describes in Nash’s contract. He makes $11 in 15. Now to be clear, I was in favor of the Nash deal and do not blame that on the FO. If they could have done it for 2 years, then that was a mistake, but if 3 years was the only way to get it done, I can’t hold that against them. That said, at this point – Nash in 15 for $11 is not something that is a positive. So Guizo is correct. Kobe at a reasonable deal, DH at max, and Nash at $11, does not leave a huge amount.

  29. AusPhil, someone correct me if I’m wrong because i’m going by memory here, but I believe if a team is over the cap like the lakers, they cannot be the *recipient* of a player through S&T, but they are still permitted to engage in a S&T as the *trader* with a nonluxury tax paying team. again, i am going by memory here so please do not accept this as gospel. this means if i’m right that, theoretically, if DH doesn’t want to stay, we could still conceivable engage in a S&T for his contract assuming the place he wants to go is under the cap. that said, what are those teams? Dal and Hou, but do they really have any assets we’d want more than the freed-up cap space (I am obviously not considering their stars who we’re not going to get….). I don’t want to write more here as I fear it will be construed as trade speculation although in fact, it would not be as I don’t really see S&T as a likely or even desirable option for the lakers. Sign DH, or else bank the $ for 2014.

  30. If I remember correctly the reasons explained that Fish was released was to give Blake more minutes and because of his strong position with Kobe affected Brown’s ability to coach. He was painted as a cancer. He would’ve been no worse than Nash was this year that’s for sure. I agree, the Jordan Hill trade was a good one just reminds me another 1st round pick Lakers don’t have.

  31. I was under the impression that Fish was released because he wanted to be a starter and because he was a huge liability defensively, with little to no output offensively. I don’t think anyone would ever label Fish a “cancer.”

  32. MannyP: painted as a cancer is strong but there were more people voicing his possible unhappiness about a reduced role within the organization. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/15/sports/la-sp-plaschke-lakers-20120316

  33. 1) DH’s bird rights vs 4yrs in a zero state income tax state. Over 4yrs this is a non trivial figure…$22mx4 =$88m x .133 (new top CA tax rate) = $11.7m + an assumed $2.9m of state tax savings in year 5 when DH would be in his 2nd contract with a club like Houston or Dallas. This tax savings offsets 66% of the 5th year @ $22 million Dwight would earn with the Lakers. Actually the last year will be more like $30 million due to the back end loaded nature of these contracts but let’s not over complicate this. So over 5 years @ 22m/yr (4yrs of 1st contract with new team and 1yr of 2nd contract w/ new team) the total tax saved of $14.6m is a big number. Of course Dwight could offset this with a richer endorsement environment in LA. But even more than this is the fact the Lakers ability to offer a 5yr deal reduces his opportunity risk of injury in a shorter contract. The point is that purely on an economic basis the advantage that the Laker’s possess is not as powerful as is widely assumed. My sense is that other factors will largely inform DH’s decision. Things like how much does he like living in LA & how motivated he is to add his name to the pantheon of Laker’s big men. While I have questions about his ability to be the cornerstone and lead this team going forward the alternative is much worse. I believe he will sign but as I have mentioned previously I also think it is more than fair for Mitch & Co to stipulate a deadline for his answer.

    2)Pau~Given that his is an expiring contract the only way he gets traded is if the pieces coming back are really additive which is unlikely in my view. And with the matching salary provisions probably better to save the dry powder for 2104. Pau has indicated today he is going to get treatment in the offseason to “regenerate both of my patellar tendons” opting not to get surgery. It is very possible that he comes back in much better condition than he was in this year. Having a respite from international competition will help too.

    3) Jordan Hill~ Would like to see him back although there is a bit of a glut @ the PF spot (as TucsonFan pointed out) but I think it is reduced by the fact that Jamison is not returning next year…unless the coach is someone other than MDA.

    Not much to say about #4 & 5 but agree with Guizo that the 2014 cap space will not necessarily be the bonanza that many hope for. All in all a critical and difficult time for the organization but if the Buss family is willing to write an obnoxious luxury tax check the best basketball answer is to follow the Kobe plan and bring the band back for a reunion tour and reload in 2014.

  34. MannyP: The “C” word might be a little strong, however Kevin’s point is basically correct. Fish was let go (and that is what it was – he was not needed to make the Hill or Sessions deals work other than a salary dump for Hill) due to reasons other than “basketball reasons. Brown’s leadership (or lack thereof) being one of those reasons, ties to Phil perhaps being another. In any case Brown is gone, Sessions is gone, and we ended up with Darius Morris and nobody in our entire organization who could relate to Kobe Bryant. Forget defense or anything else, it would have been better to have Fish than not have him, and Darius Morris’ seat on the bench was not a good reason to get rid of Fish. Then again there was the reason Kevin discussed : )

    We often talk about loyalty to the franchise and people get unglued when coaches and the FO are criticized (which I am guilty of). Some of us show this loyalty to the players and Fish deserved better and so does Kobe for anyone planning amnesty or other forms of abandonment.

  35. Die Tryin’,
    The math/economics are actually not that straight forward. NBA players pay taxes in the state in which they perform their work. So, while half of all Rockets’ games come in Texas, the rest are littered across every other state in which they play when they go on the road. This includes California (when they play the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, and Kings), New York (when they play the Knicks and Nets), and yes, Texas (again, when they play road games against the Mavs and the Spurs). This is why there are strong arguments made stating that the income tax issue is often exaggerated when talking about an incentive to play anywhere. If money is really that important, the longer deal with the larger annual raises will almost always win out.

  36. From my sources around the league… Pau Gasol has almost zero trade value except starting now as an expiring contract. The last time he was traded for CP3 he was delt alongside Lamar Odom (there is no such player to join him this time). Since that trade Pau’s play and his subsequent trade value has plummeted.

  37. pau’s play during the olympics and his much improved play at the end of the season shows that he’s got something left in the tank. But he’s clearly not the same player as he was during the finals run. He’s slower and more injury-prone.

    And there’s no way the lakers get equal value for his contract, unless it’s next year and a mid-season trade where a team is looking to unload a talented but unhappy player(s).

    And kobe has made it pretty clear he wants Pau back – that’s an important consideration.

    The Jordan Hill suggestion is a good one, but I’m not sure how much value he has. If you could package Hill with Blake, you might have a more appetizing trade, but I’m not sure what we would get in return.

    Baylor brings up a good point about management. Laker fans will suffer until Jim figures it out. And that’s probably going to take a while.