The Los Angeles Lakers started their attempt to get under the luxury-tax for this season late on Wednesday evening. With only mere hours before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, the Lakers traded Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for reserve shooting guards MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. This move does not make the Lakers better now, but it does save them more than $2 million, which is the most important thing for Los Angeles as the deadline approaches.
Blake was notified of the trade less than two hours before he was set to start for the Lakers against the Houston Rockets. As he was leaving the arena, he told reporters that he had “mixed emotions” about being traded, and that he “knew it could happen but didn’t expect it to happen, all at the same time.” The trade seems to have shocked Blake, but him being moved should open up the eyes of Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, because the Lakers’ work isn’t done yet.
Los Angeles still needs to cut at least another $5 million if they are going to get under the luxury-tax line. Moving Hill to a team that can absorb his $3.5 million salary would get the Lakers close to being under the tax, but it won’t be enough. Los Angeles would have to be willing to part with Chris Kaman for nothing as well, or throw away two out of Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Robert Sacre, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar.
If the Lakers cannot move Hill and Kaman, then they will be left gutting their roster trying to avoid the tax penalty, unless they can trade Gasol. Earlier, I wrote that they would move Gasol to the Phoenix Suns, and now that they have traded Blake, the Lakers can make the trade with Phoenix for Emeka Okafor and get completely clear of the luxury-tax.
Watching the Lakers cut money for once just goes to show how stringent the penalties for being over the luxury-tax are with the new collective bargaining agreement. No team can afford to pay a triple penalty unless they are winning championships. For some reason, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks think they can survive this, but if the Lakers can’t do it, no one can.