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Amnesty Provision Plan for LA Lakers

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Amnesty Provision Plan for LA Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are in for a tumultuous summer. Not only are they going up against the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks to retain the services of Dwight Howard, but their payroll is also unbelievably high. Oh yeah, and they still need to make a decision on Mike D’Antoni’s future and hope Kobe Bryant’s rehab goes according to plan.

With so much at stake and very little wiggle room to sign free agents, the Lakers brass could choose to use their amnesty provision on someone. This would allow them to clear that player’s contract from their payroll, no longer counting against the salary cap or luxury tax.

Many have discussed the idea of using the clause on Pau Gasol, who was basically misused under D’Antoni, or Metta World Peace. Peace is clearly not worth the $7.7 million he is due to be paid this season, although it is the last year of the contract.

There have also been talks of the Lakers potentially using the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant. While that might sound like a great idea for Lakers fans because it could help free up enough cap space to make a run at Chris Paul while re-signing Dwight, it’s inconceivable.

No franchise player deserves to be treated that way, especially Kobe Bryant, who has brought five championships to the franchise. Not to mention he had another age-defying season and has proven he is still one of the elite players in the NBA.

Let’s take a look at how amnestying Pau Gasol would impact the Lakers. Also, for both of these scenarios, we would expect Dwight Howard to re-sign with the Lakers; otherwise, it might not make much sense to use it on either player.

Amnestying Pau would save $19.28 million for certain. However, with Dwight re-signing, that would bump the Lakers’ payroll near $97 million for next season with only five guaranteed deals on the books, which includes Kobe’s contract.

Due to the new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA’s new luxury tax penalties are beginning this season. Larry Coon summarized the new tax system extremely well in an ESPN article.

Teams pay $1 for every $1 their salary is above the luxury-tax threshold in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still -- $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.)[…]

Taxpaying teams have a smaller mid-level exception, can acquire less salary in trade, and cannot use the biannual exception. Starting in 2013-14, teams more than $4 million above the tax level cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade transaction.

Teams pay $1 for every $1 their salary is above the luxury-tax threshold in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still -- $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.)[…]

Taxpaying teams have a smaller mid-level exception, can acquire less salary in trade, and cannot use the biannual exception. Starting in 2013-14, teams more than $4 million above the tax level cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade transaction.

With Gasol on the roster and Howard being brought back, the Lakers would pay a minimum of $72.25 million just in luxury taxes. Amnestying Gasol would reduce the Lakers’ payroll back down to around $77 million with between six and eight players on the roster. The Lakers would then have the taxpayer mid-level exception and the veteran minimum to fill out the roster.

It seems unlikely the Lakers would opt to cut Gasol free. The more likely scenario would be to amnesty Metta World Peace or not use the exception at all. The Lakers would not gain much, other than some tax savings, by amnestying Metta, but they would also lose a key member of their rotation.

The Lakers have notoriously spent what it takes to build a championship-caliber contender. While they certainly could save a considerable amount of money by using the clause on either player, Kobe Bryant’s injury might have changed the strategy.

Who Should the Lakers Use Their Amnesty Clause On?

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The Lakers are going to need every single wing on the roster to be productive next season while Kobe is sidelined. Amnestying Metta would definitely leave a big hole in the wing rotation, and using it on Pau would eliminate the team’s second-best healthy player. Expect the Lakers to keep all hands on deck in order to appease Kobe and attempt to stay within striking distance of the playoffs until Kobe can return.

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