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Mitch Kupchak says Lakers don’t do salary dumps

Feb 21, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Pau Gasol is still a Los Angeles Laker. He and his $19.3 million salary.

He could have been moved at the trade deadline but the Lakers wanted assets back for the Spanish star. For example, talks with the Phoenix Suns fell apart when the Lakers wanted one of the top two of the four first round picks the Suns have in the 2014 draft. Some teams though the Lakers should have sent them a pick for saving them all that cash.

That’s not how the Lakers view the world — the money is less of an issue for them than just about any team in the league. Look at what Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

“The organization is not motivated by saving ‘X’ amount of dollars,” Kupchak said. “We were more concerned with making a basketball deal.”

“I think the expression would be a ‘salary dump.’ That’s not what this organization will do. If we could get picks or players that we felt good about going forward, then we would have done that. But we had opportunities to go below the threshold and we wouldn’t do it.”

The Lakers did save themselves some money at the trade deadline but they are going to end the season about $5.8 million over the luxury tax line, which will cost them about $8.9 million. For a middle or small market team that is a huge chunk of change, for the Lakers and their $250 million a year cable television deal, it’s spare change. It’s that $20 you find in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter.

Besides, with every salary except Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre coming off the books next season (we all know Nick Young is opting out) the Lakers will be under the tax line next season and likely the next few. Those two seasons below the number re-set them against the repeater tax.

The new CBA has done a lot to level the playing field of the NBA — if you want to spend like the Brooklyn Nets you can but the tools you have to bring in players become limited (smaller mid-level exception, no sign-and-trades to add salary). However, there is never going to be a magical formula that completely levels the playing field between Los Angeles and Memphis, or New York and Oklahoma City. Those smaller markets can certainly build winning teams and successful organization, but the revenue issue is something no CBA could address (or at least not one the players and owners would sign off on).

  1. justbhouse2 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    With the highest ticket prices in the league, the Lakers are still profitable

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Tough to pay that much money and watch them lose…

      The Lakers have won 5 games since Christmas…

      • dablakdrphil - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        @sportsfan18 EXACTLY!! I went online yesterday to buy some Laker tickets because I figured the type of season we’re having they would go down…I was DEAD wrong, I refuse to pay a lot of money for Laker tickets without the Black Mamba playing

    • casualcommenter - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      The Lakers’ extreme profitability comes more from their ridiculously lucrative TV deal than their higher than average ticket prices.

      • sportsfan18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        So, with their EXTREME profitability coming from their RIDICULOUSLY lucrative TV deal, then why don’t the LOWER their ticket prices?

      • Professor Fate - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        See, there’s this weird thing in the world called “supply and demand.” Google it, you’d be surprised at how much it affects virtually everything in life.

    • Professor Fate - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      The following rankings are for the highest median ticket prices the 2nd half of the season:

      1) OKC Thunder $185
      2) NY Knicks $159
      3) Miami Heat $150
      4) L.A. Lakers $125

      “In the preseason, the Knicks led the league with a median ticket price of $200. The Thunder came into the season ranked third at $170, but has seen an uptick in ticket worth as it vaulted to the league’s best record in the first half.”

      What matters isn’t so much your record as whether or not people want to see you play. Of the top 25 most-expensive games to see in the league to date this year the Lakers were involved in 11 of them.

      • marksp18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 10:24 PM

        Strange things these facts.

    • progress2011 - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      $20 find in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter……That’s A LOT of money to me!

      I’m not too much of a snob to pick up a penny either!

      If any of the hundreds of bloggers here don’t rejoice, when they find that piddly $20 bill in your old jacket…….PLEASE send them to me!

      I will TOTALLY appreciate it and will even send you a pic of me, running around my bank, after I deposit it…..SERIOUSLY!

  2. asimonetti88 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    If you don’t get anything worthwhile back, then don’t do it. The Blake trade yielded some potentially useful basketball players back, so while it saved money it was also a good basketball move.

    • spursareold - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Two SGs to sit behind Kobe are “useful basketball players”?

      • unxpexted1 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        Traded 1 back up point guard for 2 back up SG’s one with real potential (marshon brooks), is not a usefulebasketball move?

        I think the lakers have really found something in Kendall Marshall which makes steve blake expendable.

      • apkyletexas - Feb 21, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        Laker fans convincing themselves that the Blake trade was not a salary dump and an attempt to lose more games and get a better lottery pick are the same Laker fans who convinced themselves last year that adding a crippled Howard to the nursing-home-gang of Kobe, Pau, and Nash was going to earn them an NBA title.

        No sense arguing with them – they know they are right, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 21, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        A salary dump is what the Clippers did with Antawn Jamison. The Clippers traded Jamison for a guy named Cenk Akyol, who was drafted in 2005 and will likely never see the NBA, ever. It was purely for the purpose of clearing out Jamison’s salary.

        The Blake trade yielded Marshon Brooks, who averaged 12 PPG as a rookie, and Kent Bazemore, who has some impressive per-36 minute numbers. It happened to clear out salary, which is a definite plus of the trade, but it also brought back two guys who will showed enough in limited minutes that it is worth throwing them some bigger minutes and seeing if they are worth keeping. The Lakers are not going to make the playoffs this year, and even if they managed to convince Adam Silver to switch them to the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs, they would be swept promptly in the first round. They can throw out young guys like Brooks and Bazemore and see what they can do. Maybe Brooks or Bazemore shows that they can be useful bench pieces in the future. People said Jordan Hill and Trevor Ariza were just throwaways in “salary dumps” by the Lakers and they both ended up being pretty good pieces.

    • chriskrankin - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      If you can trade Pau Gasol, which will help you lose more games and get a better pick in the draft and save $14 million and get a 1st round pick in the back end of the draft why wouldn’t you do that instead of having the guy walk at the end of the year.

      The lakers have terrible management right now.

      Quick breakdown:
      Option 1: Have Gasol stay and then walk at EOY
      Option 2: Save $14 Million, 1st Round Pick and Get better draft position.

      I pick option 1 because we do salary dumps in LA what an idiot.

      • chriskrankin - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        don’t* so salary dumps

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 21, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        No one was offering the Lakers a 1st round pick.

  3. danieljameswhite70 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:12 PM


    • sportsfan18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      ONE tough season? Last year wasn’t anywhere near what the Laker organization wants…

      This year is what ANY teams wants EVER.

      The next two seasons will not be what the Laker organization wants either.

      This “lull” will be a good five years at least…

      Just making the playoffs as an 8 seed is NOT what the Lakers care about or consider a good season.

      They won’t be relevant to the title hunt for several more years again (not happening in the next two seasons for sure, not this yr, not last yr either).

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:15 AM

        I’m glad you can see the next two years. Can you tell me who wins the race walking competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio? I’ve got a great bookie that I want to show up

  4. deadeyedesign23 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Why does the playing field need to be leveled at all? People pretend like all these cities should be exactly the same but the reality is there’s a reason why it would cost 4 times as much money to buy the Lakers compared to the Cavs.

  5. unxpexted1 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Oh, and let me guess, this is Kobe’s fault too?

    • apkyletexas - Feb 21, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      Let’s see – if he takes less money on his deal (like Timmy and Dirk did), the Lakers are not in salary cap hell, and they can keep a few extra players at higher salaries….

      And just like Timmy and Dirk, who both played for championships within the past three years, a reduced contract could have helped the team sign better players…

      No – you are right. Nothing whatsoever to do with Kobe’s contract. Nothing to see here – move along, move along.

      • sportsfan18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:59 PM

        Exactly! The salary cap is like $58.7 million this season.

        Let’s say the cap is $60 million next season. Kobe is making roughly $24 million ($48.5 over two seasons, like 23.5 and 25 or whatever).

        This means the Lakers ONLY have $36 million to spend on the rest of the roster.

        If Kobe had only taken like $12 million each of the next two seasons then the Lakers would have $48 million each season to spend on the rest of the roster.

        I don’t know about anyone else, but I think any team would be better having $48 million to spend on the roster for the others beside Kobe than if they only had $36 million.

        Due to this, there is NO WAY the Lakers will be as good as they COULD have been had Kobe taken less money.

        BOTH Kobe and the Laker organization both KNOW this and they both CHOSE to do his deal for the amount they did.

        BOTH Kobe and the Laker organization say it is about championships, but then they did what they did.

        Kobe knows he’s at the end of his career and if he really wanted another ring, he WOULD have made THAT the priority. I mean Kobe has earned about half a BILLION dollars between basketball salary and endorsements to this point in his career.

        So he did NOT need to make $24 million vs. “only” $12 million per season.

        He simply chose more money on top of the mountains of it he already has vs. a better chance at another title.

        Simple math folks. $48 million gets you a stronger team than does $36 million. No one with a brain may dispute that…

  6. Professor Fate - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    “Some teams though(t) the Lakers should have sent them a pick for saving them all that cash.”

    Therein lies the gap between teams perennially near the top and teams that are always looking up. Whatever will the bottom feeders do for the next couple of years without the Lakers lining their pockets with redistributed luxury tax money?

  7. unxpexted1 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    I do think the Lakers were smart to at least TRY and get picks from the Suns and Cavs for Pau. But at the end of the day I still would have made the move to get under the luxury tax. That cleveland deal would have equated to almost 20 million dollars in savings.

    • unxpexted1 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      And I still think the suns were stupid for not making the trade with one pick. They have four. Traded Pau for 1 of 4 first round picks(none lottery if i’m not mistaken) and an Omeka Okefor who has not played one minute this year and making 15 million dollars I think is a mistake on their part. Even if only for a rental this year, it would have made the suns better going to the playoffs with a solid big man.

      • jcmeyer10 - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        At some point one in the hand is better.

      • spursareold - Feb 21, 2014 at 5:30 PM

        What I read was that the Suns would send one of the picks, just not one of the top 2 of their 4 first rounders. Apparently, while they won’t do salary dumps, Kup Check will do brain dumps. He just flushed about $20M of the Buss family money down the toilet.

      • shanelsweet - Feb 21, 2014 at 6:40 PM

        Okafor isn’t costing the Suns a dime. His salary is paid by the insurance company ’cause he’s injured and out for the year. It’s really a sweet deal for a team under the cap since it saves them from having to spend the money on another player. As we all know, the last few players on most NBA benches are just taking the money ’cause they’ve got one heck of a nice union. If most owners had their way, teams would only carry 8 or less players, and everybody else would be playing for $25K or less in the D league waiting to be called up if/when needed

  8. antistratfordian - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    But they’ve been taking stinky dumps out on the floor every night for the last two years. So they’re overspending and stinking to high heaven at the same time – bad combo to a fan base.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 21, 2014 at 8:49 PM

      Last year the Lakers won 45 games.

      • antistratfordian - Feb 21, 2014 at 8:50 PM

        Exactly. Dream team = 45 games.

        “NOW this is going to be FUN”

  9. imthedudedude - Feb 21, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Hahahahah! Kendall Marshall is special? It’s easy to get 10 assists in a game when you are the only point guard on a team and every team lets you take the open outside jumpers because they know that’s how they will beat you. And it works

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:20 AM

      Kendall Marshall was sitting on his couch 2 months ago, probably commenting on PBT articles or something boring like that. Now he’s a starting PG in the NBA. That’s a pretty special find. Dude has shown he belongs in the NBA, Kupchak scored on that one

  10. shuttaman1990 - Feb 21, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    Damn right we don’t playa.
    Lakers are paid boy!
    Kobe got paid too much wah wah wah.
    16 rings playboy.
    Last Decade we was all in yall faces, and we will get another one before the end of this one!
    Keep hating, we love it!

    Lakers all day kiss the ring baby BABEY!

  11. rodh32340 - Feb 21, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    It would be nice to see the total league wide insurance premium payout for injured player salaries…just saying

  12. marksp18 - Feb 21, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Kupchak is right. The Lakers do not worry about luxury tax money. It was never anything another team could try and use in negotiations.

    The Suns GM is smart. Not smarter than Kupchak though. There is no freaking way Kupchak was going to give Pau away for a dude that has not even played one minute this year. If the Suns would have pulled that off then their GM really would have been lauded.

    It is all good though. I am certain the Suns will turn those picks into something very good.

    The question remains though. Are Suns fans just happy to get to the playoffs? Do they care if they get bounced in the first round which is likely considering they have no inside game? For the Suns to reach the next level they have to change their mindset. They have to have a Championship or Bust mentality. They cannot be happy with just making the playoffs. They got to make some noise.

  13. knoxxlive - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Dablackdrphil: your stupid if you think lakers tickets will ever go down, u obviously have never been to a laker game , it’s more than just basketball it’s the atmosphere , people have meeting during games sit ins luncheons during there afternoon games it’s WAYYY bigger than basketball it’s a community center

  14. grizzlystrike - Feb 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM


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