An Archrival (Laker) Question

As you know I'm half-following the Lamar Odom situation over in Lakerland.  Following it, as in, I hear the Loose Cannons talk about it on the radio for the 5 minutes I'm in my car, and read what's in the LATimes, stuff like that.  Towards the end of the comments of my previous post, which originally compared Odom's current status to the Maggette 06-07 disaster, CS and I agreed that it seems certain that Odom won't be a Laker next year.  But we've been wrong before.  Many times.  About all kinds of things.  You get my point.

So the current Loose Cannon thinking is something like this:  make Odom the Magic Johnson-style point guard, Kobe is his backcourt mate, and with Bynum and Gasol you have a glorious three year run "in Kobe's prime."  They're saying, don't be cheap, you're going to give Bynum a big contract, and Odom will be unhappy all year if he doesn't know what's going to happen, so pay him too!  Just spend the money--you'll win championships, you've raised the high ticket prices and are sold out, and the player salaries are chump change.  You don't want to spend money on bad contracts, but these are good contracts, that will make the team a dynasty, and you'll get your money back.

One part of this is that everybody thought that Lamar was getting paid 14 million this season, when it turns out he's getting 11 million.  So the line is, give him his 11 million, give him 12.  Just pay the money.  Pay the tax. 

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like there are a couple of problems here.  And I have some questions.  I'll add that this isn't just Laker-hating, although that's part of it, but part is competiton in the division and the conference and trying to have some idea of what the Clippers are up against. I don't know the hard specifics, and maybe some member of our braintrust will find it worthwhile to break all of this down.

So first, there's Bynum and his extension.  Do they even need to extend him this year?  Is he an RFA in 09-10?  Is this the same as the 06 Kaman timing, where he plays the coming season under the old deal and then the next under the new one?

The Bynum numbers that I think I saw were 5 yrs/85 mil--not sure if that was his or theirs.  5yrs/15per is 75mil (nice number, eh EB? not enough I guess).  85 sounds about right for an extension for Bynum, it's a bit of a risk, but he might be the kind of guy that other teams would pay to build a franchise around, or at least make one of their top two players.  And he could be a UFA in 2010 and part of the capspace follies there.

So let's say they do that, and so in 09-10 it's 23+ for Kobe, 16+ for Gasol, and 14-16 for Bynum in a back-loaded deal.  They have contract commitments with Radman, Walton, and Vujacic, and money down for Fisher in 09-10.  It's worth remembering, that if I'm Andrew Bynum's agent, I'm not sure at all that I want the extension--let's say I'm David Falk, and I care as much about the Lakers needs as I do about the Clippers: my goal is to make my client (and me) the most money.  Play this year, force the issue.

This sets up Lamar and his goals.  What is Lamar worth?  If Lamar keeps smiling, plays hard, he would seem to be a pretty valuable UFA next year.  Maggette just got 50 million for 5 years.  Brand just got 85.  Where would Lamar be a good fit?  Who would want him--and who would have the money to pay him?  He's going to be 29 years old, and this is an important contract for him.  He's already had a big contract, but I'm sure he would like another one.  He doesn't want a 3 year deal; he wants a 5 year deal.

So let's say the number is 60 million, that's 12 million a year.  Some one was saying "give him 13 million a year!" on the show today, but then we move past Baron Davis and head towards Brand--which might be his value, I don't know.

Here's the part I don't know.  If the Lakers sign Bynum, they would already be into the luxury tax.  So would ALL of that money be paid in luxury tax:  that is, if the Lakers sign Odom for 12 million a year, are they really paying 24 million a year for him--the same as they're paying for Kobe?

Let's not forget that Kobe also wants to get paid, speaking of extensions.  He has a player option at the beginning of next year, I think.  (Didn't Brand, Maggette, and Baron Davis have player options?  Just saying.)  That's a big flashing extension sign if I've ever seen one.

The Cannons (and Sonny Vaccaro) were having a fine time throwing around Jerry Buss' money.  It really seems, however, like signing both Bynum and Odom--and Kobe--isn't an option.

One more note:  Steve Hartman, more cynical in the beginning (or when I came in) is saying that the Lakers should trade Odom, rather than letting him walk for nothing at the end of the year.  But isn't that naive and cavalier with Dr. Buss' millions as well?  They'd be trading 11 million (an expiring contract--and a good player, not Kwame Brown) to get back 11 million that they can't afford to spend.  They would have to trade him for another expiring contract (and a lesser player) plus perhaps a young player that they wouldn't have to pay. Isn't that just another greedy idea (other teams and the league make deals that benefit the Lakers, rather than themselves) that doesn't make sense?  In the end, when you got Pau Gasol--for Kwame Brown's expiring contract; that is, nothing--you were "trading" away the ability to resign Lamar Odom.  Be happy with that.  It's a great deal.  Or don't sign Bynum.  But some choices have to be made, no?  You don't get it all.          

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