May 7, 2012, 4:03 PM EDT
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.
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