Chris Paul (left) and Dwight Howard (right) might play together one day, but probably not with the Lakers.
The 2013 offseason will be an incredibly important one for the Los Angeles Lakers’ short and long-term ambitions. However, multiple myths pertaining to their prospective moves have arisen recently and must be dispelled.
In short, it requires a multitude of roster moves to obtain the necessary cap space—then both players must accept a pay cut. The other possibility involves one of them getting a max contract while the other takes a substantial decrease in salary.
These scenarios aren’t impossible, but rather unlikely.
There are more stories floating out there involving the Purple and Gold’s next set of options at their disposal. Some of them have merit, whereas a handful of them are simply myths that must be debunked.
The Los Angeles Lakers considered bringing in Phil Jackson after dismissing Mike Brown early in the 2012-13 regular season. After offering the job to Jackson and giving him time to ponder the decision, Lakers management changed course and famously hired Mike D’Antoni.
In his new position, the Lakers coach struggled to integrate Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard without the benefit of a training camp. Granted, he eventually pulled the right strings and turned them into a lethal twosome by the end of his first season with the franchise.
Under D’Antoni’s watch, it took nearly an entire season for the Lakers to look cohesive and engaged. Furthermore, the lengthy adjustment period became a cause for criticism outside of the front office. Many clamored for D’Antoni to lose his job, regardless of the fact he wasn’t given a training camp or healthy roster to go to battle.
Thus, a few people whispered that Jackson should come back and replace D’Antoni. Then news broke out that he was allegedly itching to coach again. Although there aren’t any direct links to the Lakers (other than his engagement to Lakers executive Jeanie Buss), his name continues to be associated with the franchise on this front.
This obviously gained additional traction when Jackson shared his thoughts about the hire on Mike and Mike in the Morning:
“I laughed," Jackson told ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show Wednesday. "It was humorous to me when Mitch said that we think that Mike is a better coach for this group of guys."
Jackson has made it clear that being on the sidelines is a thing of the past. Hence, there is little to no chance he would return and lead the Lakers if the head coach position conveniently became vacant.
In addition, general manager Mitch Kupchak shared with ESPNLosAngeles.com that D’Antoni would in fact remain in his current role—mentoring the Lakers in 2013-14.
Hence, the Lakers will conduct their 2013 offseason with the intent of building a roster that suits D’Antoni’s basketball philosophy.
Pau Gasol might be just be helpless when it comes to staying with the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2013 offseason promises to be a very fluid process whereby the franchise explores all of their options. But the further summer progresses, the less likely it will become that Pau Gasol will remain a Laker.
Whether the Lakers are successful in retaining Dwight Howard or not, Pau Gasol seems like the odd man out. The plan is allegedly to bring the Spaniard back for the 2013-14 campaign, but the logistics of it all certainly seems complicated.
The Purple and Gold’s salary structure makes it such that the franchise simply cannot upgrade the roster through fee agency. Hence, the Lakers will use their most valuable trade chip in Gasol.
His $19.3 million salary will be somewhat of an obstacle, but there are still a fair amount of trade scenarios in which the Lakers can use him to bring back quality talent.
Going into the 2013-14 regular season, the Lakers are projected to have $78.2 million committed to eight players—none of which are Howard.
Trading away Gasol offers far too many potential advantages to avoid the transaction. His departure will help add talent that fits with the roster and also reduce the luxury tax hit the Lakers will unavoidably face.
Dwight Howard is somebody that Laker fans used to know?
Some believe that if Dwight Howard walks away from the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2013 offseason, the team will still retool and attract other big names.
Although that will probably become a reality in the summer of 2014 when the Lakers will have somewhere between $20 and $35 million in cap room (depending on whom they retain), that is not the case in 2013.
Per Hoopshype, the Lakers already have a projected payroll of $78.2 million heading into the 2013-14 season. Howard’s cap figure is not included in that amount.
Consequently, the Lakers are already over the salary cap and should be above the luxury tax line. The apron is not yet determined, but the figure should be announced around the July moratorium (between July 1st and July 9th).
Once announced, the Lakers should have roughly a little over $3 million to spend on a free agent with their taxpayer mid-level exception. That’s it.
Granted, the Purple and Gold can use the amnesty provision on either Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, which would alleviate some of the salary constraints, but not all of them.
If the provision is used on Bryant (a big if), the Lakers gain approximately $13 million in cap space. On the other hand, if it is instead used on Gasol, the Lakers acquire something ranging between $1 and $3 million in cap space—should they renounce their free agents.
The Gasol amnesty opens up the book a little for the Lakers and affords them the use of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.15 million.
The last scenario is the most unlikely one: The Lakers use the amnesty provision on Kobe Bryant and trade away Pau Gasol for a fringe player and free up a massive amount under the salary cap.
As previously pointed out though, these moves do not provide sufficient financial relief for the acquisition of Chris Paul and Howard. However, it could work for, say, Paul and Josh Smith.
A core of Metta World Peace, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill and Steve Nash would flank the tandem (remember, Bryant is gone for the season in this situation).
With that said, it’s still a less-than-realistic possibility considering that signing the duo to long-term contracts effectively eats away at the projected 2014 cap room.
It’s widely assumed around the league the Lakers wish to maintain that flexibility in 2014 so they can lure in LeBron James. If Howard leaves the Lakers in 2013, it would probably take them at least a year to bounce back given the roster challenges.