The Lakers are wrestling a host of different things in the days leading up to the trade deadline. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have played at elite levels this year but the Lakers are still weighing whether it’s worth going all-in on this iteration of the team by trading both first round draft picks.
An added consideration for the franchise appears to also be their bottom line, which isn’t exactly a shock. In his latest piece in which he also revealed the Lakers’ uncertainties regarding Kyrie Irving’s professionalism, Kyle Goon of the OC Register noted that, according to other teams, the Lakers are negotiating with an eye on their luxury tax bill.
“The rival executive also told SCNG that one of the franchise’s recurring themes in discussions of multiple possible deals is a desire to limit the hit on their repeater tax, which increases exponentially next year as they fill out a cast around James and Anthony Davis.”
As noted, this shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the Lakers’ pattern of decision-making and public comments in recent years. They’ve made roster decisions previously based on saving money (stares at Alex Caruso in a Bulls jersey) and even this year, head coach Darvin Ham brought up the luxury tax unprompted when talking to the media.
If the team is looking to go into the summer as a cap space team and fall out of the luxury tax to avoid the repeater tax, it’ll likely cost them in terms of roster-building — whether in terms of trading for talent in the coming days or retaining talent currently on the roster this summer.
With Kyrie Irving off the board assuming he extends/re-signs with Dallas, the cap space path becomes even less fruitful for the Lakers.— Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) February 6, 2023
The over the cap option would likely put them in the repeater tax next season, but gives them more avenues to strengthen the 2023-24 roster. pic.twitter.com/eZDAkPtxja
It should be at least noted that the Lakers have been a team operating in the luxury tax in recent years, so it’s not like they’re the New Orleans Pelicans or something. But it’s been increasingly clear in recent years that the bottom line matters more and more with this franchise.