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Predicting Which LA Lakers Players Will Not Be Back Next Season

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 25:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers is surrounded by Harrison Barnes #40, David Lee #10, and Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on March 25, 2013 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Victor DiazContributor IIApril 13, 2013

Basketball is more than just a sport, it's a business. And as such, each team stands as its own individual business, complete with expenses and budgeting. That said, with regard to the Los Angeles Lakers, the time to make business decisions is rapidly approaching.

With the current NBA season nearing its end, the time will come for the Lakers front office to sit down and analyze what next season will look like, specifically with the team's roster. As is customary with every offseason, the possibility of moves being made is certainly inevitable, especially for a team that is struggling to find the right pieces to ensure long-term success.

One of the moves the team could make is probably the most speculated one; this offseason could very well see the much-anticipated departure of Pau Gasol. While one could make the argument that Gasol has indeed gained some significant momentum to make a case for him to stay in LA, the Lakers brass may be thinking about the Spanish forward's future.

Gasol is 32 years old, which, in basketball years, is practically old enough to receive a pension. With Gasol nearing in age, he has $19 million coming to him when this season is over, with roughly about the same amount expected to be paid to him in 2013-14. 

If the Lakers could find a team that would be willing to take on that large salary, it would certainly make a dent in their attempt at balancing a proper financial situation and could possibly give them the opening they need to keep Dwight Howard in purple and gold for years to come.

Alongside Gasol, we could be seeing smaller names leave and, in turn, saving LA some money.

If the Lakers were to cut more dispensable players such as Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris, they could clear up about $3 million in cap space and add that $3 million to the "Keep D12 Happy" fund.

Other potential names that could easily depart the Lakers at season's end include Steve Blake and Chris Duhon. Blake has been a more consistent player for the team in past seasons, but quite frankly, he is just as dispensable as any other bench player the team has. 

Duhon was part of the big three-team deal that brought Howard to LA from the Orlando Magic, so he could be dealt out of LA just as easily as he was brought in.

Obviously, there's a recurring theme in all of this, and it's similar to your family's garage sale: clearing out stuff you don't need in order to make room for something you absolutely need to have. With each player that leaves the Lakers this offseason, the chances of Howard staying in LA become that much greater. 

For the Lakers, cutting ties with some of their talent could prove to be the best move they've made in recent memory.

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