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Will luxury taxes stand in the way of the Lakers adding buyout free agents?

The Lakers clearly have to improve, and the buyout market is the only way left. They’ve also clearly operated with strict financial limitations in recent years. Something has to give.

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2020 NBA Finals - Game Six Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers, still apparently reeling from not finding any trades at the deadline, now have to turn their attention to the buyout market, during which teams have to cut players by March 1 in order to be eligible for the playoffs with their new team. The issue is, if they are to get involved with any such signings, they’ll have to have something Jeanie Buss specifically did not want this year: dead money on the books.

Rob Pelinka said yesterday that the Lakers would be aggressive in the buyout market and, yeah, given that everyone knows the Lakers still have to improve and this is the only way to do so, that makes sense.

Still, though, there’s this annoying little bird in the background who simply won’t stop tweeting about luxury taxes. It’s oddly specific chirp, sure, but here we are.

So, this week on “The Hook,” I put on my overly-self-important journalism hat and asked Aaron Larsuel if taxes will be a factor when someone at the end of the roster will have to be cut (but still paid) to make a roster spot to add a new player to this very obviously flawed team.

“No,” was his answer.

Alrighty then good to know!

It just isn’t necessarily that simple, though, for a fan base who watched one of its most popular players walk last free agency simply because ownership didn’t want to pay up during a championship window. What certainly doesn’t help are reports (and even Aaron admitting) that taxes played a role in limiting what the Lakers did at the deadline, too.

If the question becomes about how much a replacement would help rather than if said player will help at all, then the Lakers will once again have an out to even this pretty clear declaration.

Do I think they’ll use that loophole? No, everyone is very aware internally that something here has to change. But again, I don’t blame any fans who are waiting to see that the Lakers are actually that kind of committed before they get their hopes up at seeing this team improve by way of subtractions and additions, regardless of what that might cost.

Also on the show, our thoughts on moves made around the league, one specific scenario I’d like to see play out, and an inside view of what this last week has been like in this week’s storytime.

To keep up with all the latest reports before the deadline, check out our 2022 Lakers trade rumors tracker. You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.