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Lakers are going to have to pony up to keep Sessions, Hill

May 7, 2012, 4:03 PM EDT

Jordan Hill AP

When the Lakers traded for Ramon Sessions, the thought was long-term not short. They knew he could opt out at the end of this season and become a free agent and that they might have to pay to keep him.

But the surprising play they have gotten from Jordan Hill these playoffs has given them another player they would have to pay to keep. Which is not ideal for a team trying to reduce its tax burden as the penalties for that are going to get much stiffer in a couple years.

Hill tried to dance around the issue of free agency when asked about it by the Los Angeles Times after the backup big posted a double-double against Denver Sunday.

Hill will be a free agent after the season, though it seems increasingly probable the Lakers will try to bring him back even though he faces a third-degree felony assault charge in Houston for allegedly choking a former girlfriend in February.

“Being a free agent, anything can happen,” Hill said. “I’m just trying not to focus on that right now. I’m just trying to focus on this ring. It will definitely feel great to have a ring on my finger and after the season, we’ll go from there.”

Sessions is set to make $4.5 million next season but is expected to opt out and get a raise and a long-term deal. Hill is making $2.8 million this year.

The Lakers are already pushing nearly $80 million in payroll next season (and they want to work out a long-term extension with Andrew Bynum this summer to extend beyond next season). That’s well over the expected $70 million expected luxury tax line with players to add. They can’t take on a lot of long-term salary.

Well, that or they need to move Pau Gasol and maybe amnesty Metta World Peace.

  1. dal24la - May 7, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    They can’t let them just leave either. They shouldnt have signed Kobe to that ridiculously stupid contract where he accounts for $24, $27, and $30 mil. His contract is just as damaging as Artest’s (7 mil) and imo Gasol’s (19 mil) contract, both of whom I’d like to see make about $3-4 mil less.
    I think LA has to bite the bullet and just be cheaper whenever Gasol, Artest, and Kobe’s contracts end

    • deebasketballguy - May 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      Can’t blame Kobe for getting paid. He doesn’t get to share in the increased equity of the team. The Lakers are now worth over $900 Million. And Kobe winning 5 titles has a lot to do with that.

      • therealhtj - May 7, 2012 at 6:48 PM

        If the Buss family wanted to sell for $900mil, there’d be a bidding war that’d make the Dodgers new ownership say “They got whaaaaat?” I think they’d get well over a billion based on the TV contract alone, but as for future championships, those are far less likely

        As for Kobe, for overall value, continuity, sure he’s worth whatever you can pay him. But in terms of championship basketball, that contract is the difference between having the depth the Lakers would need to contend every year and an annual second round exit. In terms of moneyball which, make no mistake about it, Jim Buss is playing, that contract is an absolute travesty.

        But the bottom line is, the Lakers (nor just about any team outside MSG) won’t be paying the new super, repeat offender tax in 2013-14. That means either getting rid of Kobe, or either Pau or Bynum + some smaller pieces in a strict salary dump. Either way, the not too distant future’s not so bright for us Laker fans.

      • dal24la - May 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM

        I don’t blame players for taking money, I blame the front office for overpaying players…Kobe’s worth every penny and more.
        It is just the act of paying superstars more than they are worth after their prime /late in their prime to make up for them previously being underpaid hurts salary cap space, especially when you try to pay them appropriately like they did Kobe.

      • dal24la - May 7, 2012 at 6:57 PM

        Therealhtj laid out what I was trying to say…

    • deebasketballguy - May 7, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      I think LA will keep Bynum and deal Gasol. Pau has maybe a 3 year window left. Replacing Kobe is the hard part though. Players like him don’t come around too often.

      • dal24la - May 7, 2012 at 8:41 PM

        I would love to keep all 3 but I have gut feeling that is what LA will do [trade Gasol].
        And yea it goes without saying replacing a top 15 player All time will be hard…

  2. lakerluver - May 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    The LAKERS have to keep them both. Hill has been a very pleasant surprise. Offensively he’s challenged but he makes things happen because of his energy. Sessions is the LAKERS pg for now and for the future. Buss, make it happen!

    • soflasfinest - May 7, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      Damn, you need to STOP capitalizing the lakers. We get it you’re a groupie, simmer down.

    • gmen4life33 - May 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      You dont pay enegery guys, you find them, let a bad team overpay them as FA, and then find another. Losing good players is part of the game. There are bad owners/G.Ms out her and you cant overpay just to “beat” them and keep high energy guys.

      • dal24la - May 7, 2012 at 6:55 PM

        I agree as essential as Hill is to LA’s success lately we can’t risk overpaying just to keep him. Hopefully he’ll accept less to win. I wud not give him more than $5.

      • mashoaf - May 8, 2012 at 1:26 AM

        Just like Mark Madsen.

  3. cosanostra71 - May 7, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I don’t know a whole lot about salary caps, contracts, etc- can the Lakers rework Kobe’s contract to a smaller cap number, as many teams/players in the NFL often do?

    • beavertonsteve - May 7, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      WIthout giving the Lakers some salary cap relief Kobe can forget about competing for titles. You’d think that would be a motivating factor.

    • aqzi - May 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      The short answer is that no, Kobe’s contract cannot be renegotiated. The long answer is available here:

      Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be so sure (@lakerluver) the Lakers resign him. Don’t forget he’s never averaged more than 17 minutes a game. Hopefully, a couple good weeks does not make a contract, especially in light of the contracts the Lakers have thrown at less than decent role players over the years (Radmonovic, Vujacic, Walton, World Peace, etc.)

      • cosanostra71 - May 7, 2012 at 8:32 PM

        thank you for the response! It will be very interesting. I can’t really imagine the Lakers ever cutting Kobe, but they may have to consider it…

  4. bulldog7a - May 7, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    According to Larry Coon (ESPN NBA CBA expert), the Lakers can only offer up to $3.08 mil due to Houston declining to pick up his option on his rookie contact for next year. If someone comes in and makes a higher bid, there is not much the Lakers can do. Hill will be an unrestricted free agent.

    The Lakers have Sessions full Bird rights and should be able to match any offer that another team makes.

    • drunkenjunk - May 7, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      can’t the Lakes throw the MLE at him? I know its not much more but still.

    • therealhtj - May 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      Over the cap teams can only offer a mini-mid level of about 2.5 mil/yr over 2 years.

      • dal24la - May 8, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Assuming we keep Sessions and Hill (no given) the only thing we would need to spend money on is a REAL back up SG.

  5. williegault - May 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Pony up some lawyer fees or bond?

  6. rosesacl - May 7, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Kobe’s 25m contract is CP3’s future contract… does anybody think CP3 will reject Kobe’s seat when it open’s up?

  7. lakerluver - May 7, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    @deevasketballguy, I totally agree with you, Gasol is gonna be the odd man out. Those complaining about Kobe’s contract need to just let it go, the LAKERS gave him that money knowing it would affect them going forward. The Buss family is not stupid when it comes to doing business. I would not overpay for Sessions or Hill but I would definitely try to keep them both.

  8. lakerade - May 8, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Winning cures everything. Losing, on the other hand, results in luke walton getting $5 mil a yr for 5 yrs.

  9. fouldwimmerlaik - May 8, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    It doesn’t matter. The Lakers have Kobe and that is all they need. I have Kobe pajamas, not Sessions pajamas. I have Kobe Action Figures, not Sessions Action Figures. Kobe is the best and he makes all around him better. Let Sessions go and the Lakers will still be great as long as they have Kobe.

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