Skip to content

Lakers will not have quite as much 2014 cap space as some think

Jul 23, 2013, 1:42 PM EDT

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

While fans (and a lot of front office executives) around the league have enjoyed the Lakers stumbles last season, we all know the plan. And it’s a very feasible one.

The Lakers will muddle through this season then rebuild on the fly through free agency in the summer of 2014 when virtually everybody comes off the books. They can attack free agency hard and sign a couple max players. They have reportedly targeted LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Except, the Lakers don’t have quite as much cap space as everyone thinks. Depending on what they do it could be more like $36 million.

The fantastic Jared Dubin had some fun with this at Grantland. For this post, I’m going to take what I think is the most logical scenario and talk cap space from there, using Dubin’s numbers, that includes the Larry Coon (ESPN’s cap guy) projection of a $62 million salary cap next summer.

The Lakers go into next summer with two contracts on the books — Steve Nash with $9.7 million and Robert Sacre at $915,243. Also, Nick Young could stick around as he has a $1.2 million option, but it is more likely he opts out to try and find a longer deal. So we’ll leave Young out of this.

But the Lakers don’t just have the difference between the $10.6 in guaranteed salary and the $62 million to spend.

Meet the cap hold — a placeholder salary that counts against what you can spend based on the value of what you could pay your free agents to come back (also that could include holds for draft picks and minimum contract players yet to be named to get you to a dozen roster spots). In the Lakers case there are cap holds for Kobe Bryant (almost $32 million), Pau Gasol ($20 million), Steve Blake ($7.6 million) and on down the line. With all their cap holds in place the Lakers are at $86 million, way over the cap and luxury tax line, they couldn’t sign anybody.

Most likely the Lakers will trade Gasol during the season or, when the time, comes, the Lakers will renounce their rights to every free agent on their roster not named Kobe. They will create cap space because when they renounce Gasol or anyone else he gets replaced by a $507,336 minimum salary hold. There also will be a salary hold for the Lakers first round pick next summer, the size of which depends on the draft spot but likely is upwards of $1 million, close to $1.5 million.

In Kobe’s case, I expect the Lakers will re-sign him to a discounted deal, much as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett did for their teams. While Kobe has said he doesn’t want a pay cut, I think that was negotiations and he’ll return for around $10 million.

So where does that leave the Lakers: Kobe at $10 million, Nash at $9.7 million, a draft pick around $1 million, Sacre at $915,243, and eight minimum salary cap holds, your grand total is around $26 million on the books.

Which leaves the Lakers around $36 million in cap space in the summer of 2014.

LeBron’s max is going to be about $20 million for the first year, ‘Melo’s is more like $23. The Lakers can’t swing them both at the max (and have fun trying to convince ‘Melo to take a pay cut). As I have said before, I doubt LeBron or Anthony bolt their respective teams, but consider that a fun exercise in the limits of what the Lakers can do. Remember, the Lakers want to be under the tax threshold line in the 2014-15 season to avoid the repeater tax.

Things could be different — the Lakers could waive Nash and use the stretch provision, for one, to get even more cap space. The Lakers could make a mid-season trade for star under contract (using Gasol and pieces as the bait) and have even less room. There are endless scenarios.

Most observers around the league expect the Lakers to bounce back fast — players want to be in Los Angeles and play for a storied franchise. But the new CBA makes the Lakers style of reloading far more difficult; they are going to have to get some players to come to them at a discount.

The goal of the new CBA was to make it hard and expensive on teams used to just spending to get what they want. The Lakers are a great example of how that is going to work.

Latest Posts
  1. Enes Kanter soaks up Jazz fans’ boos, but Thunder lose

    Mar 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz

    Kanter found a way to motivate the Jazz in the dog days of the season, and the Thunder lost in part because of it.

  2. Kendrick Perkins says you’re blowing the LeBron James/Kevin Love thing way out of proportion

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    “You don’t have to be best friends to come out here and work together.”

  3. Golden State picks up 60th win, clinches top seed in the West

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT

    Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry AP

    The Golden State Warriors are the team to beat out West.

  4. NBA, Pacers issue statement in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act law

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Adam Silver AP

    Legislation was signed into law in Indiana last week, and has been criticized as one that could legalize discrimination.

  5. Hawks to rest all five starters Saturday after clinching East’s top seed

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks Media Day Getty Images

    Hornets, still fighting for a playoff spot, catch a break.

  6. Stan Van Gundy: ‘Absolutely no chance’ Magic induct him into team Hall of Fame

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Stan Van Gundy Stan Van Gundy

    Van Gundy coached five seasons in Orlando, but was fired after the way the Dwight Howard debacle played out.

  7. Warriors coach Steve Kerr: ‘I would vote for Russell Westbrook’ for MVP

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Kerr was joking, and making light of a mini-controversy that occurred recently with the Cavaliers.

  8. Earl Clark signs 10-day contract with Nets, contributes to win over Cavaliers

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Clark played key bench minutes the same day he was signed.

  9. Stephen Curry scores 38 in Warriors’ blowout win over Grizzlies (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Warriors keep rolling, while the Grizzlies are starting to feel like a first round loss.

  10. Kevin Love finds LeBron James for huge alley-oop slam (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    Highlight-reel play came near the end of a loss to the Nets.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6397)
  2. K. Lowry (5852)
  3. L. Aldridge (5832)
  4. R. Rubio (5790)
  5. G. Monroe (5655)
  1. K. Martin (5565)
  2. G. Hayward (5395)
  3. P. George (5392)
  4. D. Rose (5368)
  5. A. Shved (5304)