January 01, 2014

Gasol-Bynum swap? Why would the Lakers wait? Dump, tank, Wiggins!

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in Laker teammate days.
Getty Images via ESPN
ESPN says that a possible trade is in the air between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Potentially on the move? Currently disgruntled Lakers center Pau Gasol and currently disgrunted and temporarily suspended Cavaliers (and former Lakers) center Andrew Bynum.

But, under this idea, the Lakers don't want Bynum to play him, but rather to dump him.

Come again?

Yep, and here's why:
By trading Gasol in a package for Bynum and then waiving Bynum, the injury-ravaged Lakers could save more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes, which could help them maintain financial flexibility heading into the next few summers. A Gasol-Bynum trade would have to include at least one other player to make the deal work under league rules, and perhaps other assets from Cleveland.

Plus, there's another advantage.

Per previous blogging I've done ever since news of Kobe Bryant's downtime with a broken leg, this gives the Lakers the perfect, justifiable reason to start tanking and get in the Riggin' for Wiggins sweepstakes to nail down a shot at Kansas freshman star Andrew Wiggins.

Given that Steve Nash is likely out for the years and the Lakers have no true point guards, and that no Gasol eliminates a playmaker of sorts as well as a scorer and rebounder, it would be easy to accumulate plenty of lottery Ping-Pong balls this way.

Why the Lakers and GM Mitch Kupchak would want to wait, I don't know. By the time Kobe is back, they'll be deep in the Western Conference dust with no chance of coming back, anyway. Even without this trade and dump.

And, there's another good reason:
The Lakers have been luxury-tax payers for six straight seasons. While the luxury-tax savings this season -- and the ability to avoid the repeater tax penalty, which kicks in when a team is a taxpayer in four of five years, starting with the 2011-12 season -- would undoubtedly help the Lakers' long-term flexibility, the franchise's history and organizational culture make that a difficult prospect to consider.
So, the Lakers are the New York Yankees of the NBA, in essence. But, with a chance to get smarter than the second generation of Steinbrenners.

Beyond that, Laker fans need to face reality even more than the front office. It's time to rebuild. This offers at least a puncher's chance of doing that relatively quickly and painlessly.

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Unfortunately, as of Jan. 2, talks have cooled off. Why? The Lakers are greedy for an additional "asset." What? Getting under the lux tax, tanking, freeing up free agent money, and possibly doing a quick rebuild aren't enough?

Take the minimum additional  player Cleveland has to add to make the deal work; stop being greedy enough to ask for a first-round draft choice or whatever.

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