Metta World Peace Could Become a Casualty of New Cap Rules

At the moment no one on the Lakers’ roster is in jeopardy of losing their job. Mainly because as of now none of them have jobs, per say. Until the lockout is officially lifted and paychecks start getting cut no NBA player is back on the clock. However in the coming years there could be some drastic cuts made by the Lakers in order to save cash.

While we await all of the details of the new CBA to become public, a few bits of information are slowly trickling out.

With regards to the salary cap it is reported that the players were able to avoid the hard cap as the owners so desired during this process. Yet the owners were still able to notch a victory of sorts for the smaller market franchises.

Come 2013 teams will face much harsher penalties for exceeding the salary cap. Currently a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax applies. Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times breaks down the new rules that will go into effect in two years time.

For the 2013-14 season, the luxury-tax penalty moves from dollar for dollar to a $1.50-to-$1 ratio for the first $5 million a team is over the threshold, a $1.75-to-$1 ratio if a team is $5 million to $10 million above the threshold, a $2.50 ratio for $10 million to $15 million, and a $3.25 ratio for $15 million to $25 million beyond the threshold.

It doesn’t take a degree in mathematics from MIT to know the Lakers will be footing a large bill in a couple of years. The Lake Show is among the few franchises that will willingly exceed the cap in pursuit of winning at all costs.

This is where jobs are on the line. While there is nothing official to speculate on there should be some concern in the World Peace household. Currently the man formerly known as Ron Artest is under contract for another three years. Coming off a career worst season from a statistical standpoint doesn’t help Metta’s prospects of remaining a Laker for the length of his deal.

As Bresnahan points out, the Lakers could be looking at some extreme costs if they keep their payroll in tact for the coming years.

The Lakers’ payroll last season was $91 million, the NBA’s largest, and they paid an additional $21 million in penalties because they were that far over the tax threshold. In two years, a $91-million payroll would cost the Lakers a staggering $68 million in additional taxes.

For World Peace and his $7-million salary in 2013 it could be a dicey issue trying to remain employed in Los Angeles. Between four players under contract for 2013-14 the Lakers are already committed to $60-million in salary. Steve Blake could find himself in the same boat as World Peace.

Since arriving in Los Angeles Metta’s play has fluctuated from brilliant to bewildering. L.A.’s title run in his first season is a great microcosm of what the World Peace experience has been like in Los Angeles. Metta lost all confidence in his jumper and was largely invisible in the playoffs until he came up with a few clutch plays including a massive three in the late stages of Game 7 against Boston.

Clearly World Peace is at the crossroads (yeah, that statement rings true in many ways). He is no longer the All-Star talent that once dropped 20 a night. In addition his highly regarded defensive prowess is becoming more and more limited due to an increasing list of injuries and ailments.

In short, World Peace might not be worth the price in the coming years. This season will go a long way in determining his future as a Laker.

More than likely there will be few teams willing to take on Metta’s contract so a trade seems improbable. If his performance during Mike Brown’s first year resembles what he did during Phil Jackson’s last season then in all likelihood the Lakers will be left with no other choice but to simply part ways.

Of course this is an issue all NBA teams will be dealing with at some point. Clearly the lockout was a tool used to revamp the entire system. While the owners might not have succeeded in getting all of their demands worked into the new deal there is no doubt that this is a brave new hoops world. Even if World Peace returns to his ways of old there is nothing that guarantees the Buss family will be willing to keep paying above and beyond what they owe in player salary.

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Tags: Metta World Peace Mike Brown Phil Jackson Steve Blake

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