11/24/2004 11:03:00 AM|||Kurt|||If you're at work and not doing any work today, here's a little reading for you, two things well worth your time.
The first blows up the myth of the Lakers having plenty of cap space to go out in 2007 and get free agents. Writer Eric Pincus penned the piece for Hoopworld and gives a very good argument that the Lakers are not in as good a position as their brass would like you to believe:
LA won't be under the salary cap until the summer of 2007 when Brian Grant's contract expires. Even if they trade him in his last year, they'll be over the mark until the 2006-7 season has been completed.
Assuming that the new collective bargaining agreement that will hopefully be instituted after this summer does not change the basic cap rule, LA will have just two players under contract: Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.
If those two are designated as the core players, that's $33.6 million in salary for the pair. The cap increases slightly each year, it's at $43.87 million currently. Assuming it rises to as much as $47 million, which could be too optimistic, that's $13.4 million in cap space. That may not even be enough room right there, remember Kobe signed this season starting at $14.18 million.
You need to read the entire article, which also discusses how the myth of future cap space could limit trades today, among other things.
Pincus is right about the numbers, but I think it's fair to say the issue is very complex and flexible. One wild card in all of this is whatever new CBA deal the players and owners hammer out this summer. (Lets hope they learn from the mistakes of their NHL brethren and hammer one out.) Will the "Larry Bird rule" stay in place, and other changes in the cap and how salaries are counted against it could come out of that CBA.
Don't forget also that the Lakers have a series of first-round picks, including Miami's in 2006, that could lead to very good players for the team who will be less expensive for a those first few years. Another option, though less likely, is a sign-and-trade deal.
But while there are variables, the message about not drinking management's Kool-Aid about the cap space cure all is important.
On another note, while the subject has been beaten to death, I'd say it is still worth your time to read a guest column at Knickerblogger about the recent incident at the Detroit/Indiana game.
What left me scratching my head however was that the commissioner left the Detroit Pistons franchise untouched -- no fines, no loss of home games, and no fan ban. Although the suspensions provide precedent-setting (and likely necessary) disincentives for players to overreact, fans have no real disincentives for losing self-control. I applaud the verbal tongue-lashing Stern gave to fans that cross the line but I didn’t hear anything substantive from our beloved commish. Why wouldn’t some fan try even bolder measures than tossing debris to provoke a player into a suspension next time? If I seem overly cynical about fan behavior check the current bid on the cup that allegedly hit Ron Artest in the face over at ebay (search on “pacers pistons cup”).