A quick update on Kobe’s extension and the Lakers’ cap space

Today the Lakers announced that they have extended Kobe Bryant for two seasons. Terms were not announced, but Ramona Shelburne reported that he will make $23.5 million and $25 million, respectively.

[UPDATE: I have since confirmed that the salary figures are exactly $23.5 million and $25 million. He continues to have an accelerated pay schedule, no incentives, and his contract is fully guaranteed for lack of skill, injury or illness, death, or mental disability.]

Two years is the longest extension he could have signed due to the Over-36 rule. This rule takes effect when a contract is for more than three seasons and ends after the player’s 36th birthday, effectively mooting the salary in the later seasons. For extensions they always count the remaining seasons on the current contract — so Kobe now effectively has a three-year contract, which is the maximum allowed before running into the Over-36 rule. See Question number 56 of my FAQ for more information on this rule.

So where does this leave the team with respect to the 2014 free agent market? The players on the team’s books next summer are as follows:

Player Salary Note
Kobe Bryant $23,500,000
Elias Harris $816,482 Non-guaranteed
Steve Nash $9,701,000
Robert Sacre $915,243
Nick Young $1,227,985 Player option

The salary cap next summer is projected to be $62.9 million. The Lakers will also have their own first round draft pick. Based on their current record, this pick would fall around #15, and would therefore count around $1.5 million against their cap.This would give them a total of about $37.66 million for six players. We need to add another six cap holds totaling $3,04 million, which brings the total to about $40,70 million.

With this team salary, the Lakers would have about $22.2 million in cap room next summer. This will be enough for one maximum-salary player — for example, Carmelo Anthony is eligible to receive up to $22,458,401. While this is slightly above the Lakers’ maximum, there are other things the team can do to create more cap room if Anthony doesn’t want to take slightly less than the amount for which he ls eligible.

The team can save a small amount if it waives Elias Harris’ non-guaranteed salary. A larger savings will come if they waive Steve Nash and utilize the Stretch provision on him. If this happens, only $3.23 million of Nash’s full $9.7 million salary will remain on their books.

If they remove both Harris and Nash, their team salary will drop to about $34.44 million, which would give them about $28.46 million in cap room. This would give them the opportunity to sign one maximum-salary player, and a second player at around the mid-level amount. They would also be eligible to utilize the Room Mid-Level exception for around $2.7 million.

However, this assumes they let all of their free agents walk, including Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, and Jodie Meeks. If the wish to retain any of these players, they will remain on the team’s cap — in fact, Gasol’s cap hold alone will eat up most of the team’s cap room. To free up the potential cap room, these players will have to either:

a) Re-sign with the Lakers, in which case their new salary will count against the team’s cap, which will reduce their cap room for signing free agents.

b) Sign elsewhere, in which case they will be lost.

c) Be renounced by the Lakers, in which case the team loses the ability to sign them using Bird rights.

Let’s say the Lakers really wanted to keep Gasol.While he’s an unrenounced free agent he would count about $20.25 million against the team’s cap, reducing their cap room to about $8.75 million. If he re-signs and takes a one-third discount (similar to what Kobe took) he’d receive about $13 million, which would drop the team’s cap room to about $16 million. If they renounce him they can reclaim the entire $28+ million, but then he’d have to be willing to sign for whatever cap space remains after the team signs other free agents.

So if the Lakers are going to follow-through with their 2014 plan, keeping Gasol would likely require him to take a steep discount.

 

Interactive NBArank vs. Salary

The following is the NBArank score vs. player salary visualization I used when writing this article for ESPN Insider. This is an interactive version of the visualization. Each circle in the graph represents one player — you can hover over one to see the player’s name, salary, NBArank score, and contract type. You can change the filter criteria with the controls on the bottom — for example, in the Team control you can un-check “(All)” and check individual (or multiple) teams to see only those teams. You can filter on any combination of team, contract type, and age. Enjoy!

Predicting the Finals

What percentage chance do you give Miami to win the Finals? 60 percent? 70? 80?

What about each individual game? Do you give Miami an 80 percent shot to win every game of the series? Do you give the home team a 75 percent chance to win each game?

If we have odds for the individual games, we can calculate odds for the entire series. Here are some sample results:

Odds for each game: Miami wins series San Antonio wins series
Each game 50-50 50% 50%
Miami 60% to win every game 71.02% 28.98%
Home team 60% to win every game 53.2% 46.8%
Miami 70% at home, 60% on the road 81.31% 18.69%

The series odds may not be quite what you’d expect based on the individual game odds. But that’s the point of doing the math. If we’re right that Miami has a 60 percent chance to win each game, then their chances of winning the series are a little over 70 percent, not 60 percent. Likewise, if you think Miami has a 60 percent chance to win each game, then it doesn’t make sense to say they have an 80 percent chance to win the series.

So how do you do the math? I’ve saved you the work and created a quick & dirty Excel spreadsheet you can download and play with:

LINK

Here’s a screenshot:

FinalsPredictorScreenshot2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using the spreadsheet is pretty simple. Input values are in yellow — just enter the percentage chance you give Miami to win each game. The final results show up in red. For example, here it is with the home team given a 70 percent chance to win each game:

FinalsPredictorScreenshot1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to see how the math is done, it’s all in hidden rows 17-34, which you’ll need to un-hide to see. There are more elegant ways to do the math, but as the title of the spreadsheet suggests, I used a quick & dirty method to put it together. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Since San Antonio won Game 1, I’ve updated the spreadsheet to reflect that in the input values. You can continue to use the tool to show the probabilities for the remainder of the series. I’ll try to keep the spreadsheet updated for the remainder of the Finals.

 

Responding to my critics

moransIf you haven’t read my earlier piece looking at the idea of the Lakers signing Chris Paul while re-signing Dwight Howard, go read it now, otherwise this post won’t make much sense. Be sure to look at the comments.

Now here’s the background for that piece. If you haven’t seen it already, Bill Simmons[1] recently wrote his annual “trade value” piece for Grantland, which is a wonderful look at player values, ranking them according to whether a team would be willing to trade Player X for another team’s Player Y. If the answer is “no,” then Player X should be ranked higher than Player Y. These articles tend to be massive — this year it was spread across three posts and I think added up to more words than the US tax code. Continue reading

Chris Paul on the Lakers?

Credit: LakersNation.com

Credit: LakersNation.com

Somewhere a rumor started about the Lakers potentially clearing enough cap space to sign Chris Paul. Let’s take a look at the plausibility of this idea.

First off, let’s get the obvious red flag out of the way — it would require the Lakers to use their amnesty on Kobe Bryant. While I’m one of the people who thinks the Lakers have to at least give it some serious thought if Kobe’s going to miss the entire season (or come back late in the season and be a shell of his old self, which is more likely), this doesn’t necessarily reflect the team’s thinking on the issue.

I know many Lakers fans would say, “The Lakers would never amnesty Kobe,” talking about loyalty, one of the greatest players ever, P.R. hit, etc. If this was an ordinary year, I might be more inclined to agree with you. However, this year the Lakers are under new management. We have some track record for what the Lakers might or might not do under Jerry Buss. We have a sample size of zero to guide us with Jim Buss in charge.

So just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the Lakers WOULD be willing to amnesty Kobe in order to make this all work. Otherwise, we can just stop here. Continue reading

Is Pau Gasol washed up?

As I look at the Lakers’ upcoming salary commitments, it seems pretty obvious that somebody has to go for financial reasons. Assuming the team is able to re-sign Dwight Howard, their 2013-14 payroll will once again push $100 million. But this time being that far over the luxury tax line will carry a much steeper penalty. Being $30 million over the tax line in 2012-13 will cost a paltry $30 million in luxury tax. In 2013-14 that bill will rise to $85 million.

But the Lakers still haven’t used their amnesty waiver — a one-time opportunity to waive a player with his salary exempted from the salary cap and luxury tax (although they still have to pay his salary). Only players who were on the team continuously since the CBA was signed in December 2011, and who are still playing on the same contract, are eligible to be amnestied. For the Lakers, only Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake meet these criteria.

You can forget about Bryant, for obvious reasons. Unless he loses a leg in an industrial accident between now & July, he’s safe from the amnesty axe. Continue reading

What will happen to the Lakers’ draft pick this summer?

There are still lots of questions floating around about the Lakers’ upcoming first round draft pick, so let’s review.

This story starts with Cleveland. They were involved in a number of trades which included 2013 first round picks. As a result, they have (or potentially have) the following picks — not including the Lakers trade: Continue reading

What about Houston and Dallas?

This week I wrote a piece for ESPN Insider (you need an Insider account to view it) looking at the cap situations for the entire league heading into this summer’s free agency. Teams naturally fell into categories:

  • The big spenders: Teams way over the luxury tax line.
  • The low-tax teams: Teams between the luxury tax threshold and the apron.
  • The teams just below the tax line: Teams that are capped-out, and which will likely want to stay out of the luxury tax.
  • The teams with big cap room: Teams able to offer at least $20.5 million to a free agent (i.e., enough for Dwight Howard).
  • The field: The remaining 15 teams that aren’t in one of the above categories.

Due to space constraints (yes, space constraints exist, even on a web site where a page is theoretically infinite in length) I had to gloss over the field, and only mentioned this category in passing.

Of course, this gave rise to many “what about _____?” questions, naming one of the 15 teams I had glossed over. The most frequently mentioned teams were the Rockets and Mavericks. These two teams will have a lot of cap room, to be sure — but not enough to make my “big cap room” category.

Let’s take a look at these two teams now, and assess their ability to sign Dwight Howard this summer. Continue reading

Live from the Sloan Confrence with Coach Nick

I did an interview with my friend Coach Nick of B-Ball Breakdown from the Sloan Conference. Check it out here:

And if you haven’t seen Coach Nick’s other work, you should check it out at B-Ball Breakdown as well. He does detailed video breakdowns of NBA basketball from a coach’s perspective. His explanations are always educational.