Fascinating: "The $110 Million Question"

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Fascinating: "The $110 Million Question"

I am pretty positive Pau Gasol will not finish the 2012-13 NBA season on the Los Angeles Lakers roster.

In fact, I think Gasol will be traded to the Houston Rockets sometime shortly after August 25.

I have no inside source telling me this.

I have no team official even hinting at the possibility.

But what I do have is experience reading between the lines, connecting the dots and doing the math.

And I do not see how the Lakers can keep Gasol for the next two seasons on his current Lakers' contract (he earns $19.0 million in 2012-13 and $19.3 million in 2013-14).

The Buss family has been known to pay as much as $20 million in luxury-tax penalties to make the Lakers the best team money can buy. Typically, that translates into spending $90 million in players, which is $20 million over the $70 million luxury-tax threshold.

However, with other big-money players under contract like Kobe Bryant (2 years, $58.3 million), Dwight Howard (1 year, $19.5 million), Steve Nash (3 years, $27.9 million) and Metta World Peace (2 years, $15.0 million), the Lakers will be paying their five starters $82.6 million this season and $87.3 million next season, if Howard signs a maximum deal as expected.

That's more than any one NBA team pays all 15 of its players.

Let's play it conservative and say the Lakers spend $15 million on its bench, which would be way lower than what L.A. has actually done in recent years, they would then incur $27.3 million in luxury-tax penalties this season and an astronomical $102.3 million in penalties in 2013-14 when the luxury-tax rates rise sky high, thanks to the recent collective bargaining agreement that punishes big-spending teams.

Yes. You read that right.

If the Lakers' team payroll is $102.3 million, and the 2013-14 luxury tax is $72 million when the penalties escalate in a more-punitive way, then the Buss family will have to pay $110.3 million in penalties for being $30.3 million over the luxury figure.

See the difference?

This year the penalties don't escalate. So the Lakers will be paying an all-time high $27.3 million or so, but they can do it.

In 2013-14, however, NBA teams will no longer be able to spend $20-$30 million over luxury-tax figures without seeing their fines eventually tripled or quadrupled.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out there's no way the Buss fam will pay that tab.

That's precisely why Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban waved bye-bye to Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry within a year of winning the 2011 NBA championship. He too annually fielded $90 million player budgets, but as you can see, the new CBA doesn't allow for that type of behavior anymore.

Now let's jump back to the L.A.'s' situation and just imagine the Lakers want to trade Gasol to the Rockets, like they actually did in December 2011, before the deal was nullified by Commissioner David Stern.

If they were to do so now, what would they want?

I believe they would want young big men to replace Gasol. I believe they would want a good player with an expiring contract so that they chop off a huge sum from that more-punitive pending penalty coming in the 2013-14 season. And I believe they would want a first-round pick or two to set themselves up for the future.

Houston has all that.

The Rockets supplied the Lakers with a decent big-man prospect last season when they dealt Jordan Hill to L.A. And they have plenty more where that came from on their 21-man roster (yes, Houston has 21 players--another sign that shows they're ready to make some blockbuster trades).

Houston could offer many, many young power forward prospects, like Patrick Patterson (makes $2.1 million this season), Royce White ($1.6 million), Terrence Jones ($1.5 million), Donatas Motiejunas ($1.3 million), JaJuan Johnson ($1.1 million), Sean Williams ($0.9 million), not to mention young centers like Marcus Morris ($1.9 million), Jon Brockman ($1.0 million), Greg Smith ($0.8 million) and Josh Harrellson ($0.7 million).

Trouble is, some of these talents cannot be traded until August 25 because they signed contracts with Houston July 25, and the new CBA prohibits the Rockets from trading them until they've been there a month.

That is why I believe a potential Gasol trade will start hitting the rumor stages right about that time.

The Rockets want Gasol to play alongside their new center Omer Asik. The Lakers don't want to pay a $110.3 million penalty in 2013-14.

And Houston has the young players that can help Los Angeles set itself up nicely for the future and present.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey also can offer Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak Houston's 2013 first-round pick, which would likely fall somewhere between picks 10-thru-20. Morey also has the Raptors' lottery-insured first-round pick the next time Toronto has a Top 14 selection. Either would be appealing to the Lakers.

And as for the expiring contract the Lakers need, the Rockets have Kevin Martin's deal with 1 year, $12.4 million left on it.

Houston could trade three big prospects that add up to $5 million, include a first-round pick or two, add Martin to the deal and get back a package for Gasol that not only strengthens their team for the future, it takes away most of that ridiculous $100-million-plus penalty.

Here's another reason I think the deal is going down.

When Orlando was in trade talks with Houston, Chris Duhon was a point guard the Rockets were interested in acquiring because he would be someone to back up Jeremy Lin.

The Rockets still don't have a true backup point guard, and when the Lakers made the deal for Howard, they had Orlando throw Duhon into the mix.

The Lakers have no need for a $3.5 million point guard like Duhon, not when they're paying Nash $8.9 million and Blake $4.0 million to back him up.

I believe Duhon will be thrown in this Gasol deal.

With the Lakers clearing out $22.5 million and $23.1 million in players the next two years, they could take on Martin's $12.4 million expiring contract and $5 million for three big men.

Not only does Kupchak save the Lakers $10 million this season ($5 million in salaries, $5 million in penalties), he would save them around $111 million in 2013-14 ($19 million in salaries, $92 million in penalties) because the Lakers team salary would only be around $83 million, equating to $18.75 million in penalties.

And if Kupchak also were to amnesty Metta World Peace's contract at that time, the Lakers 2013-14 team payroll would be around $75 million, which would only be $4.5 million in penalties.

You follow?

Trading Gasol for young talent saves many, many, many millions.

If they kept Gasol and, say, just amnestied Metta, then the Lakers would be able to scale down significantly, bringing their $110.3 million penalty to $73.5 million.

But that figure is still way too much, especially when you consider you tack on the $7.7 million you still gotta pay Metta to leave the team.

It's a no-brainer, really.

Keep Gasol for the rest of his contract and pay anywhere from $73 to $110 million in fines in 2013-14 … Or trade Gasol now, acquire three young big men who were drafted in the first round, add some more first-round picks for the future … amnesty Metta World Peace next summer … and pay just $4.5 million in penalties in 2013-14 … and get your house in fiscal order.

It's a savings of more than $100 million. Even the most ardent Laker fan will understand.

I know the L.A. global fan base wants to see a lineup of Howard, Gasol, Metta, Kobe and Nash, but it's not going to happen. At least, not for too long.

There is just no way any NBA team--not even the Lakers--can pay $110 million in luxury-tax penalties for any one season.

Even if they've just signed a 25-year, $5 billion TV contract with Time Warner.

You just can't … and the Lakers know it.

When all is said and done, a Lakers lineup of Howard, young Rockets big men, Metta, Kobe, Nash, Martin, etc. is still a big upgrade over last year's squad.

Chilbert arenas
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I was following you on

I was following you on everything then got stuck on the fact that you called Marcus Morris a center

Malik-Universal's picture
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the lakers have always been

the lakers have always been over the cap.... and why trade possbily the most skilled back to the basket player??

so you would trade pau to houston lets say for their unproven PF's???? r u serious?? so basically you wouldnt mind decreasing the lakers title chances by trading away a 7'0'' PF... when keeping in mind the lakers will have an advantage upfront in every game this yr with pau and dwight......

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So what's the question?

So what's the question?

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Houstons back up point guard,

Houstons back up point guard, they have Tony Douglass who i would rather have over Chris Duhon

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Reading Comprehension

Cilbert arenas: "I was following you on everything then got stuck on the fact that you called Marcus Morris a center."

I did not write this article. The link is posted above the text. No, Marcus Morris isn't a center (though he isn't truly a PF or SF either, in the writer's defense haha), but that's hardly the point of the article. Even if you don't agree with his appraisal of positions, the financial aspect should be very, very, very clear.

Malik-Universal:the lakers have always been over the cap.... and why trade possbily the most skilled back to the basket player?? so you would trade pau to houston lets say for their unproven PF's???? r u serious?? so basically you wouldnt mind decreasing the lakers title chances by trading away a 7'0'' PF... when keeping in mind the lakers will have an advantage upfront in every game this yr with pau and dwight......

Well, you obviously didn't read the article. This is not about trading Pau Gasol for chemistry/value issues. It's about the fact that keeping him beyond the 2012-13 season will cost the lakers $110 million in tax penalties for just ONE SEASON, not the usual or $27 million, and that the Rockets can offer cap relief and reasonable long-term talent. Please read thoroughly before posting responses with upwards of 10 question marks.

Tongue-Out-Like-23: So what's the question?

Whether or not the Lakers feel Pau Gasol is worth an $110 million in tax penalties, whether they should deal him or swallow the most mammoth salary penalty in sports history.

Come on guys...

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your avatar is the best

your avatar is the best picure ever...

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i read the article

i read the article

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I had a few too many to drink

I had a few too many to drink tonight to comprehend this right now, I'll come back to this in the morning..

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It does make a lot of sense,

It does make a lot of sense, and the scenario with Houston just seems too perfect, but if they were planning on taking Martin's expiring and a youthful big why did they sign Meeks a few days ago? If they had a plan of this happening wouldn't Kenyon Martin have been the appropriate one to sign as insurance for Dwight (injury) and Pau?

I'm not saying it won't happen because it does make sense to try and save that kind of money while finally trading Pau who has been involved in what feels like every trade in the Lakers history the past two years. As far as it happening it could go either way, but Pau and Dwight even as a non-Laker fan that just sounds sweet.

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Wouldn't it be best then to

Wouldn't it be best then to just keep Pau for one more year?

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Cuban didn't resign Chandler

Cuban didn't resign Chandler because he was after DWill and/or Howard.

Kidd was obviously too old to be a starter with big mins and they still almost resigned him.

Terry well it was time for some new younger blood in Dallas. By the way how did not resigning Chandler work out for the Mavs. One more year of paying the luxury tax and they would've had a lot of expirings.

If MWP is amnestied who is playing SF for the Lakers.

I'm not convinced the Lakers win it all with this current roster now they'll trade for some young PF who's proven nothing instead of Gasol interesting. I mean I would do it to save all that money off the cap esp. with Gasol not being the same player he was in 08-10.

However, I'm not sure if those PF's will get it done its not likey they are getting a proven guy like Scola but obviously he's gone from the Rockets.

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Rockets rebuilding

The Rockets are in rebuilding mode. I know they are looking for star power... but trading several young assets and picks for an aging Gasol ?? ( He is not in his mid twenties like Howard & Bynum ) Your entire article is from the Laker prospective. You only state that " The Rockets want Gasol to play alongside their new center Omer Asik". How do you know this ? Did Morey state this anywhere?

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In fact, I think Gasol will

In fact, I think Gasol will be traded to the Houston Rockets sometime shortly after August 25.

We'll find out here in about two weeks then.

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U mean this guy is worth $110 million?

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Eventhough they've stockpiled

Eventhough they've stockpiled major young assets, I hope and can't see the Rockets giving up there a handful of their young prospects for an aging Pau Gasol and a draft pick or 2 that won't be worth too much of anything seeing as how the Lakers are always at least decent. They need a star player, not a second option on a good team type of player in my opinion, K-Mart has been that for years now. I'd wait it out until at least the trade deadline and see what I have in my young players before making any moves. Because they have a lot of good young guys and one or two of them could eventually be that player or players that they've been breaking their necks to find on the trading block. At one point and time J.Lamb and T.Jones were considered high lottery picks because of upside and potential. I'd wait at least until a better deal came around. They'd be doing LA a favor.

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I think the Lakers go for it

I think the Lakers go for it this year and trade Gasol around draft time to a team with cap room. I can't see them trading him until Howard is back and healthy either. This is a big one year push and figure it out after the season.

Memphis Madness
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Here is a Gasol trade that might work

If they trade Pau Gasol then the Lakers will take themselves out as title contenders. He's their best low post scorer now that Bynum is in Germany, err, I mean now that he is a member of the Sixers.

Not sure how big a market there is for Pau, unless a team is in WIN NOW mode.

This might be a good trade though. What about trading Pau Gasol to the Spurs for a package centering around Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson's expiring contract?

Spurs get: Pau Gasol, Earl Clark, Andrew Goudelock, Matt Barnes (sign and trade), the rights to Robert Sacre, cash, a future first round pick, and a future second round pick

Lakers get: Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson, Derrick Byars, and Tiago Splitter.


Yeah, the Spurs lose Kawhi Leonard but they do get Pau Gasol to make one more run at a title. Pau, Duncan, Manu, and Tony Parker are a great four man core. Goudelock and Earl Clark can fill out some spots on the bench that still includes Gary Neal, Corey Joseph, DeJuan Blair, and Matt Bonner.

The Lakers lose a guy who can get you 20 points and 10 rebounds inside but they do get a small forward for the future and they can use Kawhi Leonard as a future core with Dwight Howard. Stephen Jackson gives them a good backup at shooting guard and small forward who can guard wings and hit 3's. Splitter would give them another big man who can't hit free throws, but he is long and can defend and rebound.

They could move Jamison into the starting lineup at the stretch four spot and then move Metta to the bench to give them this starting lineup:

PG: Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Byrant
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Dwight Howard


PG: Steve Blake
SG: Stephen Jackson
SF: Metta World Peace
PF: Jordan Hill
C: Tiago Splitter


PG: Chris Duhon
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Devin Ebanks

Not as much size inside but they can get more speed and perimeter shooting with Jamison at the four. Plus, they improve their bench with S Jax on the wing and Splitter inside.

The Spurs would have this starting lineup:

PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Matt Barnes
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Tim Duncan


PG: Gary Neal
SG: Andrew Goudelock
SF: Manu Ginobili
PF: DeJuan Blair
C: Matt Bonner


SF: Earl Clark
C: Robert Sacre

Their crunch time lineup would be Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green/Matt Barnes, with Pau and Tim Duncan inside.

The Spurs lose a very good young small forward but gain a great power forward and a perfect fit next to Tim Duncan. Matt Barnes is a solid replacement for Stephen Jackson. The Spurs have a very good starting lineup with three great scorers and two nice role players on the wing. Off the bench they can go with Manu, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, Blair, and a few young guys. I like Robert Sacre as a replacement for Splitter. Sacre has size and talent and should do well with Coach Pop.

The Spurs get a future first round pick and a future second round pick to complete the deal.

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