OAKLAND — The Lakers took another bite out of their bench, sending Chris Mihm to the Memphis Grizzlies for a very conditional second-round draft pick in 2013, a move that saves the team another $2.5 million in luxury taxes.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he hoped Mihm could find more minutes in Memphis and alluded to the need to decrease in-house tax ramifications.
"Hopefully it's a chance for him to play," Jackson said of Mihm before turning to the financially driven part of the trade.
"In these economic times, I think it's important for teams to try to reach what their goals are, and we have a goal to economically be feasible as an organization. We ran a little bit heavy and deep, and now we're cutting back."
The Lakers now have 14 players, one shy of the league maximum, and are on pace to pay about $7 million in luxury taxes on a payroll of about $78 million. Almost two weeks ago, the Lakers lopped $8.5 million off their payroll over the next two seasons and saved another $8.5 million in luxury taxes by trading Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte.
The NBA trade deadline is today at noon, though it would be a surprise if the Lakers did anything of significance.
The Lakers, who also sent an unspecified amount of cash to Memphis, will receive the Grizzlies' second-round pick in four years only if Memphis has one of the league's top five records in 2012-13. The pick is retained by Memphis if it is one of the top 55 picks of the 2013 draft.
Until Andrew Bynum returns from a torn knee ligament, which won't be until at least March 30, DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell will get extra playing time in place of Mihm, who averaged nine minutes in the Lakers' last three games before Wednesday.
"It's going to be a night-to-night basis, basically," Jackson said.
Against smaller, quicker teams, Powell will get more backup time. Against taller, brawnier teams, Mbenga will get the nod.
Mihm, 29, was averaging two points and 1.9 rebounds in his fifth season with the Lakers.
His best season was 2005-06, when he averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. In many ways, though, it turned into his worst season when he sustained a drastic ankle injury that affected him for the next two seasons and required two surgeries. He also had surgery on his heel last season.
Mihm was well-liked by teammates despite an uncharacteristic skirmish at Monday's practice after Mbenga elbowed him during a scrimmage.
"All the guys liked him, the coaching staff liked him. He was doing the right thing," Jackson said. "He was working hard. He cared about this game. He cared about this team."
It was somewhat surprising when the Golden State Warriors signed forward-center Ronny Turiaf to a four-year, $17-million free-agent contract last July, but he has earned his money with a workmanlike attitude since leaving the Lakers.
Turiaf is averaging 5.3 points, four rebounds and is third in the league with 2.2 blocked shots a game.
Do the Lakers miss him?
"You always miss talented players, especially one that's as emotional and such a free spirit as Ronny," Jackson said. "He's a guy that everybody looked forward to seeing before they walked on the court because he's always giving them total support. We miss that part of it and we miss his spontaneity."
Staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.