So, with Mo Bamba's injury, I was thinking how crazy it would be if we picked up his $10.3m option without getting a really good look at how he fits into the roster this season. But, when you run the numbers, it quickly becomes apparent that we'll be over the salary cap with just LeBron, AD, D'lo, Beasley, Vando and Christie (don't even need to take the empty roster slot cap holds to get over the cap).
That only leaves the tax payer mid-level exception ($7m) to offer our non-Bird FAs (Troy Brown Jr., Dennis Schroder, Lonnie Walker IV.) The $4.4m bi-annual exception is only available to teams that stay under the $168.9m salary apron -- if we want to retain most of our key role players from this season, we will well exceed the salary apron. Clearly, we won't be able to retain all of our non-Bird players. The obvious one to let go for me is LW4. Unlike Malik Monk last season and Malik Beasley this season, Lonnie offers nothing on the defensive side of the court. So, if he's not having a hot shooting night, he offers no value to the team. I don't know if $7m is enough to keep both Troy and Dennis, but I hope we try. Here's what our cap could look like when retaining everyone but Lonnie Walker and Davon Reed:
|D'Angelo Russell (Bird)||$25,000,000|
|Malik Beasley (Team Option)||$16,524,106|
|Mohamed Bamba (Team Option)||$10,300,000|
|Rui Hachimura (Restricted Bird)||$9,000,000|
|Austin Reaves (Restricted Early Bird)||$7,000,000|
|Troy Brown Jr. (TPMLE) (Non-Bird)||$4,000,000|
|2023 FRP (18th pick)||$3,458,400|
|Dennis Schroder (TPMLE) (Non-Bird)||$3,000,000|
|Wenyen Gabriel or other vet min (Non-Bird)||$1,989,698|
|Cole Swider or vet min||$1,102,929|
|2023 Salary Cap||$134,000,000|
|2023 Luxury Tax Threshold||$162,000,000|
|Luxury Tax Space||($14,338,006)|
|2023 Salary Apron||$168,998,000|
|Repeater Luxury Tax Payments for $15m||$43,750,000|
|Repeater Luxury Tax Payments for $20m||$65,000,000|
Here's my logic behind the rates:
- D'lo at $25m - This is, admittedly, less than his current deal at $31.3m, but D'lo was in the right place at the right time to receive that contract. KD wanted to go to the Nets and the Warriors wanted to get something back for him rather than end up with nothing. So, KD facilitated a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn. While D'lo didn't exactly fit in NoCal, he was a useful chip for them to acquire Wiggins. This time, he should get a deal that reflects his actual on-court performance. My hope is the Lakers are able to get this rate on a 2-year extension before the season ends (which would allow D'lo to be traded should a disgruntled star demand a trade this summer). The max we could extend him is 2 years/$67.5m - or $33.75m a year.
- Malik Beasley - Picking up his $16.5m option for me is like the overpaying of KCP. He provides the spacing we need and some okay defense on top of it. I think he's worth the overpay.
- Mo Bamba - This is the big question mark for me. It's either overpay for a seldomly used big with potential to get better or lose him for nothing and replace him with a vet min big. The big hurdle for him will be where the cap is after we take care of the more important players (D'lo, Reaves, Hachimura). There's a massive difference in the luxury tax payments for being $15m over vs $20m over. That $5m difference would cost Jeanie Buss and family $26.25m in real dollars. This is literally why they didn't re-sign Alex Caruso. They couldn't justify paying $30m a year for him. If we need to get D'lo up to $30m to close the deal, I think Mo will become a tax casualty and we'll replace his $10.3m with a $1.99m vet min deal.
- Rui - $9m is, again, an overpay for his talent. The thing is, I don't think we can replace Hachimura's offensive versatility with a vet min guy. So, as with Beasley, he's worth the slight overpay to retain his services.
- Austin Reaves - $7m. Honestly, I'd be willing to go as high as $11m for Reaves. He's become a hyper valuable bench role player. Again, if we need to pay him a little more to close the deal, Mo should become a cap casualty.
- Troy Brown Jr. and Dennis Schroder - $7m combined. I'm not sure if we can get them both for this price, but it's worth a try. They are both valued bench players who can slot into the starting lineup when the inevitable injuries happen. I don't value them as highly as Reaves, but would love to find a way to get them both back. Since they are coming off of one year deals, the TPMLE is all we have to offer. I think it's definitely enough to retain one of them, but can we keep both?
- Wenyen and Cole - We could do worse. Swider could be an adequate low-cost replacement for Lonnie at the end of the bench and Wenyen always tries hard despite being a foul magnet. If we opt for other vet min guys our FO thinks are better fits, I won't be overly upset, but continuity counts for something.
What do you think? Should we run it back with all our guys? If not, who would you sacrifice as a cap casualty this summer?