(Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports)
Where would we be in life with spreadsheets? They help us organize important data and analyze information at light speeds compared to the days where a bookkeeper dressed in his vest & visor would scribble vital accounting information into his trusty ledger. Today, any spreadsheet application is easy to use, read and does most of the complex financial and statistical operations.
We are nearing the beginning of one of the most important free agent seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise.; they have a ton of cap space and numerous franchise-direction changing free agents will be available starting July 1st. Right now there are some spreadsheets that are getting worked to death by personnel in the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office, trying to figure out which and how many players they can afford to pursue, what they are able to offer each and how it fits under the stringent salary cap.
While we don’t have special access to the data that’s being hammered out in the Lakers’ spreadsheets, even though we tried, we can put together a few likely scenarios that the Lakers are likely to be pondering at the moment; such as, how do we fit both Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James and still fill out the rest of the roster.
In our scenarios we will use a salary cap of 62 million which seems to be the consensus from salary cap experts regarding the projected salary cap for this coming season. We’ll keep the complicated CBA (collective bargaining agreement) jargon to a minimum.
Scenario #1: Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James
- In this scenario the Lakers are able to pay James and Anthony deals starting at $14.4 million each and up to 4 years max, with 4.5% increase from their 1st year salary per season, their total contracts would total 61.5 million each. That is a hefty pay cut from what each player was expecting to make this coming season had they not opted out of their contracts.
- The Lakers retain their 1st round pick, Julius Randle as he has a very salary cap friendly contract with still being on the rookie salary scale. The Lakers could easily trade Randle’s rights away in order to open up another 2.5 milion in salary for James & Anthony if needed.
- Steve Nash’s contract of 9.7 million is cut into thirds by utilizing the stretch provision which will spread out his contract over the next three seasons.
- This leaves 8 empty rosters spots that the Lakers will fill up with minimum contracts. Even though they are already maxed out in salaries, they are allowed to exceed the cap with minimum contracts which will vary in amount depending on the years that player has played in the league.
- Lakers do not have use of their mid level, bi-annual or trade exceptions as they had to renounce those in order to open up cap space to offer the above referenced contracts to James and Anthony.
- You might think that a starting salary of 14.4 million is not going to be enough to entice James and Anthony, well if that is the case the Lakers can open up more space by trading Nash to a team that can absorb his contract but they aren’t going to do that without geting something in return. The Lakers would have tweak the above scenario in order to offer both players a few more per year by including Randle in a Nash salary dump.
Scenario #1b: Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James
- By trading away Steve Nash’s expiring 9.7 million along with the rights to Julius Randle, the Lakers are now able to offer James and Anthony respectable superstar deals with a starting salary of 16.7 million. The total contract for each would be 4 years at 71.5 million.
- The downside to this is that the big 3 would be playing with a roster full of minimum salary guys which would make it difficult for them to get out of Western Conference for a least another season or two when they can utilize salary cap exceptions to pick up a better supporting cast.
Scenario #2: Carmelo Anthony and Kyle Lowry
- Lebron James is a pipedream so we move on to a more realistic scenario where the Lakers sign Carmelo Anthony and one of the 2nd tier free agents who aren’t quite star level, but possible All-Stars and high contributing role players.
- Carmelo is eligible to receive as much as 22.5 million in the first year of his contract which the Lakers can offer if they waive and stretch Nash’s contract, but that wont leave any money to sign another good free agent. In order to offer Lowry a contract starting at 8 million, they can pay Anthony 20.8 million and over 4 years he’ll receive a total of 88.8 million. Now we are starting to talk numbers that will attract a player like Anthony to the Lakers.
- We use Kyle Lowry in this scenario at a starting salary of 8 million which is probably the low number of his market value. You might have to massage the figures here to offer Lowry a little more, but that would mean that Anthony would have to take a little less.
- I used Lowry in this scenario but you can replace him with the other 2nd tier free agents that are out there, such as Greg Monroe, Lance Stevenson or Loul Deng; Monroe is probably the only one in that group that might command more than 8 million to start because of there being a higher demand for big men, but these guys are all in the same price group, give or take a few million.
- This is a solid line up of a Kobe Bryant and Kyle Lowry back court, a Julius Randle and Carmelo Anthony front court, and some serviceable big man to occupy center.
- The rest of their roster would have to be filled with minimum contract players.
Scenario #3: Pau Gasol, Luol Deng and Kyle Lowry
- In this scenario, we scratch off the idea of acquiring one of the big name free agents and nab a couple of the 2nd tier ones while re-signing Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks.
- The contracts we are offering Lowry and Deng are identical, 9 million to start and likely will have to be the maximum 4 years that the Lakers are able to offer. Again, you can replace either player with someone like Greg Monroe or Lance Stevenson.
- A starting salary of 9 million for Pau is certainly more than he will likely receive in free agency and should be enough to re-sign him. If the Lakers feel that it is time to move on from Pau who will be 34 years old when the season starts, they can allocate this money to a player like Greg Monroe who is nearly 10 years younger.
- I brought back Jodie Meeks at 2.8 million here, but that could go to re-sign one of the other Lakers’ free agents; however, it is unlikely that amount will be enough to bring back a player like Nick Young or Jordan Hill who will likely receive more lucrative offers.
- We can alter this scenario slightly and only take one of the 2nd tier free agents and use the 9 million to bring back a few more players from last year’s squad.
Scenario #3b: Gasol, Young, Hill, Meeks & Kyle Lowry
- Here we replace Luol Deng from Scenario 3 and replace him with 2 more Lakers’ free agents, Nick Young and Jordan Hill.
- This roster would bring back at least 4 of the current Lakers free agents: Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Jordan Hill.
- If this scenario materlizes it would mean that the Lakers struck out in the free agent market since they would be bringing back most of last year’s team and the only addition would be a 2nd tier free agent in Kyle Lowry.
Scenario #4: Bring everybody back & not stretch Nash
- This will probably be the least popular of the options for the Lakers and its fans, considering it would be bringing back much of the same squad that just came off a season where they went 27-55 and ended up in the lottery.
- The Lakers will likely try not to use the stretch provision for Nash’s contract if possible since they would rather ride out his deal and have it come the books in its entirety at season’s end. If they aren’t able to conceive any free agents to sign next season a positive of that would be that they can just keep Nash’s contract around until it expires.
- In this scenario the Lakers will be able to go over the salary cap to resign their own free agents and use their salary cap exceptions if needed.
- If this scenario plays out it would be unlikely that most of the players that the Lakers re-sign would get deals beyond 1 year guaranteed in order for the Lakers to have that salary cap space next off-season where the potential free agent pool could include Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Eric Bledsoe and Rajon Rondo.
This is just 4 scenarios with another 2 with slight adjustments, of the hundreds of different scenarios that are out there for the Los Angeles Lakers this off-season. The Lakers front office is currently going over all of them in preparation for when the NBA free agent season begins on July 1st.
– Fern Rea
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