Now before you begin reading this, I am not an NBA analyst and do not completely understand how the cap works. I will try to keep it somewhat short as I try to go through the Lakers current situation and possible future plans for the off-season.
Currently, for the next season 2008-9, the Lakers owe the following players as follows -
Kobe Bryant – $21.26 million
Pau Gasol – $15.08 million
Lamar Odom – $14.6 million
Vladimir Radmanovic – $6.05 million
Derek Fisher – $4.7 million
Luke Walton – $4.42 million
Trevor Ariza – $2.91 million
Andrew Bynum – $2.77 million
Chris Mihm – $2.50 million
Jordan Farmar – $1.08 million
Therefore, the Lakers have ten players under contract. The Lakers current salary is $75.37 million. The salary cap should be roughly $58 million this year if it follows a general trend. The luxury cap should be about $70 million. So we can see the Lakers are already over the luxury threshold. This doesn’t even include resigning Sasha or Ronny.
If I understand this correctly, the Lakers can continue to increase their payroll by offering a free-agent the MLE which is roughly $6 million per season for up to five years. If the Lakers can land Sasha and Ronny for a combined 7 million in 2008, that would be considered a good deal in my mind. That would put the Lakers at above $82 million, however. The Lakers could use the MLE and a LLE to get above $90 million, but I really just can’t see Mitch doing it.
And, if we look at the free-agents available, only a hand-full make sense to try to land. It’s unrealistic to target an Arenas or Josh Smith. At $6 million, the best players that the Lakers could land include: Maggette, Diop, Posey, K. Thomas, Pietrus, R. Davis, Livingston, Kwame, B. Barry, Nachbar, Arroyo, Duhon, Najera, G. Green, J. Williams, J. Howard, J. Hayes, Horry, J. Jomes, Finley, Pargo, Cassell, Magloire, Rush, Giricek, Ross, and others. There are others that are restricted free-agents, but are less likely.
Now there are some great players there, but many don’t fill the Lakers needs. Maggette, Pietrus and Posey I feel are the best available, but we already have potentially Lamar, Luke, Vlad, and Ariza who play the same positions as them. Nachbar would also be a good fit for the triangle, but is part of that SF log jam.
Diop and Thomas could be great backup centers, but with Mihm choosing to stay in L.A., we don’t really need another big man. If the Lakers are to make any moves, it should be at the guard. If Kobe went down, we don’t really have a SG to come in. Sasha is great off the bench, but not as a starter. If Fisher or Farmar went down, we don’t have a backup PG.
Therefore, I think the Lakers need to bolster up the backcourt. I think Duhon is a great player for this team because he can hit threes and he plays great defense. Arroyo and Pargo would work off the bench as well. As for the SG spot, I think Giricek is a perfect fit for this team. We could split the MLE to land 2 of these players or even use the veterans exception to get a player like Livingston with minimal risk.
Of course, these are all if’s and I’m not sure that Mitch wants to spend that much.
In the end, I don’t expect the Lakers to do much. I would be happy with a guard addition of 2-3 million with last years squad. I’d also love to see the Lakers try to work a sign and trade with the Bulls to get Deng (restricted FA) and Hinrich (1 of their 5 combo guards) in a package for Lamar.