Last week it was reported the Los Angeles Lakers turned down a trade that would have landed them Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. Some Lakers fans couldn’t figure out why the team, who is in need of an offensive punch off the pine and in desperate need of production at the small forward position, would turn down such an offer.
Could it be the fact the Lakers didn’t want to part with the first-round draft pick the Wolves were requesting in return? Could it be Beasley is better known for being a knucklehead more than anything he has accomplished on the hardwood? Or, it could have been more of a monetary decision than anything else.
Chris Broussard thinks so. Here is what Broussard had to say about the Lakers’ current financial situation following the team’s rejection of the Beasley deal:
With one of the league's highest payrolls at roughly $88 million -- well above the luxury tax threshold of $70 million -- the Lakers are due to pay $18 million in taxes this season. Since there is a dollar-for-dollar penalty for tax-paying teams, taking on Beasley's $6.2 million deal would add another $6.2 million to their tax bill and cost the Lakers a pro-rated shortened-season total of $7.331 million.
Any or none of the reasons I have mentioned above could be why the team turned down the trade. But let’s just be happy they turned it down.
Currently the Los Angeles Lakers are playing arguably their best basketball of this unique, truncated, lockout shortened season, having won eight of their last 11 games, including an impressive 10-point win over the Miami Heat last Sunday afternoon. And while they are still nowhere close to convincing fans they are legitimate title contenders, the team is looking much better than they did to start the season.
Kobe and Co. seem more comfortable running Mike Brown’s new offense (which could have something to do with Brown giving the players a little more freedom lately), Metta World Peace has shown glimpses of brilliance since the All-Star break, and Brown, who couldn’t decide on a set rotation to save his life early in the season, has seemed, for the time being, to have settled on one that pleases him.
And despite all of the recent improvements, the team still has an arduous road in front of them if they hope to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season–meaning no one would be shocked if this current Lakers team had an unsuccessful postseason this spring.
Adding Beasley would make things all the more complicated. Why risk the small progress the team has made on a player who is nothing but a guaranteed success? I would be writing the same article for any other player, whether it was a middling role player or an All-Star. By adding a new player to the roster, the team would have to start back at square one. The new addition would have to learn the new offense, which as I mentioned above, the current roster is just now finding a little comfort in doing. A current player would likely have to take a huge cut in minutes and Coach Brown would then have to go back to his laboratory, trying to yet again find the perfect blend of talent to put on the floor.
This would be fine if we were talking about the majority of NBA franchises. Fans and the organization may be willing to sacrifice the crazy, lockout shortened campaign for the betterment of the team’s future, but we are talking about the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the few franchises in all of sports who in no way, shape or form is allowed to go through a rebuilding phase. They are expected to both win now and later.
By making a substantial roster change, however, with all of the idiosyncrasies of the lockout shortened season, the team would be doing so at their own peril.
And unfortunately for this Lakers team, peril is potentially a reality, without adding any new faces.
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