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Grant Might Be a Luxury Lakers Can Get Off Roster

Under new labor deal, they could release forward and save tax, but they'd still have to pay his salary.

June 29, 2005|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers are strongly considering waiving Brian Grant, using a clause in the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement that would allow them to release the high-salaried forward acquired last summer in the Shaquille O'Neal trade.

The one-time exemption allows teams that pay the luxury tax to waive one player and erase his salary from their luxury-tax figure. The Lakers would still have to pay Grant's salary, which would continue to count against the salary cap and keep the Lakers cap-strapped until the summer of 2007.

The Lakers would, however, save almost $30 million in luxury taxes over the next two seasons. Grant, who averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds last season and was bothered by knee and shoulder problems, will make $14.3 million next season and $15.4 million in 2006-07.

A decision on Grant, 33, would be strictly economic and would be made by Laker owner Jerry Buss, who has paid the luxury tax the last two seasons but could avoid a considerable hit for a player of limited value.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak declined to comment specifically on the exemption or Grant's future. "We haven't had a chance to review in detail the agreement," he said. "We've gotten only some abbreviated bullet points."

However, a team source said it was "a very real possibility" Grant would be released.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, which will be finalized next month, the soft salary cap is expected to be about $48 million and a luxury tax will kick in for teams that surpass a to-be-determined threshold of about $60 million. Teams are hit with a dollar-for-dollar tax for anything over the cap figure, with the money distributed among teams with payrolls under the limit. The Lakers could be almost $20 million over the luxury tax threshold next season after using their mid-level and veteran's exceptions and possibly bringing back center Vlade Divac.

Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, acknowledged Grant's release was feasible.

"If they were to go that way, I think there would be a lot of interest from other teams," he said. "Right now, he's a Laker and we're prepared either way. He's preparing for the season, working hard, and there's no doubt in my mind Brian is going to have a great year."

After the collective bargaining agreement is finalized, teams will be given a month to decide whether to exercise the so-called "amnesty provision."

The clause probably will lead to the end of Allan Houston's nine-year career with the New York Knicks and Michael Finley's nine-year tenure with the Dallas Mavericks. Other high-salaried players who could be released are Philadelphia 76er forward Chris Webber, Toronto Raptor guard-forward Jalen Rose, Miami Heat guard Eddie Jones and Orlando guard-forward Doug Christie. Players waived under the provision could sign with any team except the one that released them.

Grant was one of three players acquired last July from the Miami Heat in the O'Neal trade. He had career averages of 11.4 points and eight rebounds before last season but faltered badly in a Laker uniform.

He sat out a month early in the season because of soreness in his knees and never regained full strength, scoring more than 10 points in a game only once after returning in late December.


The Lakers are interested in hiring Denver Nugget assistant coach Chip Engelland as a shooting coach.

Engelland worked with the Lakers in the past as a shooting coach during Phil Jackson's first tour. He is best known for his work with Orlando Magic guard Grant Hill and former Chicago Bull three-point ace Steve Kerr.

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