CBA guru and TLN friend, Larry Coon, writes on the Lakers decisions due on Mbenga and Powell.
RealGM: The Los Angeles Lakers have center D.J. Mbenga and forward Josh Powell under contract for 2009-10, both for $959,111. Both players’ salaries are currently non-guaranteed – the Lakers could waive either player without owing any money. A decision on whether to waive either player must come soon, with Mbenga’s salary becoming fully guaranteed if not placed on waivers today, and Powell’s becoming fully guaranteed if not waived by Wednesday.
The Lakers have been financially conservative this offseason, in order to afford re-signing both Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom. The escape clauses on Mbenga’s and Powell’s contracts provide the opportunity to save additional money, even if they intend to keep both players.
The minimum salary is a sliding scale based on years of service. For example, the 2009-10 minimum for a rookie is $457,588, while for a 10+ year veteran it is $1,306,455. However, in order to keep teams from shying away from older (and more expensive) veterans, teams are only responsible for paying the minimum salary of a two-year veteran ($825,497), with any salary above that amount paid from a league-wide pool. The luxury tax for these players is also based on the salary of a two-year veteran.
Here’s the catch — this only applies to minimum salary players on one-year contracts. Since both Mbenga and Powell are on two-year contracts, the Lakers will be responsible for each player’s entire $959,111, along with the full luxury tax.