The Los Angeles Lakers are currently trying to secure a spot in the NBA Playoffs and make a run at the NBA Championship with one of the best duos in the entire sport. While that is happening on the court, the front office should be putting in work behind the scenes.
While it is easy for the fanbase to get wrapped up in the now, it is important that Rob Pelinka and co. are also prepping for what could happen this summer. After all, that was one of the main goals of the moves made at the trade deadline. The Lakers wanted to make moves that made sense in the long term.
Los Angeles did just that as they brought in young players that could conceivably be part of this core for years to come. It was going to cost the team money but whether it be with Bird Rights or with restricted free agents, LA has the ability to bring back all of the young players from this year’s team. It seemed like that was the plan all along.
Those plans may have just been altered by the new collective bargaining agreement agreed to by the NBA and the NBAPA. There are several changes in the new CBA, including a change to the luxury tax structure moving forward (h/t ESPN).
"“The league is implementing a second salary cap apron — $17.5 million over the tax line — and those teams will lose several key team building mechanisms, including the taxpayer mid-level exception, utilizing cash in trades, moving first-round picks in drafts that are seven years away, signing free agent players in the buyout market and taking on more money than is being sent out in trades, sources said.”"
Lakers may have to make sacrifices this offseason due to new NBA CBA.
As it stands right now, Spotrac estimates the Lakers to have $122.8 million in taxable salaries already on the books for next season, giving the team $39.1 million in luxury tax space. That is assuming the team brings back the likes of Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba, who can be let go this offseason.
That seems like a lot until you remember who the Lakers have to pay. D’Angelo Russell is due for a payday and while he may not seem like a max player, he is going to get close to a max deal because that is simply how the NBA works.
If Russell signs a max deal he is estimated to get a shade over $40 million next season. That instantly puts LA just under $1 million over the luxury tax, giving the team roughly $16.6 million more to spend before the second apron kicks in.
This is before the Lakers have to deal with a potential Austin Reaves contract (that could pay in the $10-12 million range) and a potential Rui Hachimura contract (in the $8-10 million range). The team cannot physically do those two deals without going over this second proposed tax apron and getting punished hard for it.
And that is before the team even makes other moves to replace other players that are free agents after the season.
Plus, ownership has never seemed very fond of the tax-spending in recent years, so this second apron could just be an excuse to cut some corners in terms of spending and not bring back the entirety of this young core.
LA will have to find a way to either make room to re-sign these three players or come to grips with letting one of these upcoming free agents walk. Either way, this new CBA definitely changes the calculus for the Lakers.