If the Lakers choose to use their one-time amnesty on Metta World Peace,… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
With the NBA releasing its new salary cap figures on Tuesday night, the Lakers' numbers show the Lakers could pay almost $25 million in luxury tax for the coming season.
While the salary cap has been set at $58.679 million, the significant number for the Lakers is the tax threshold -- which came in slightly over previous league estimates at $71.748 million.
For the first time in NBA history, the tax climbs incrementally with each additional $5 million in payroll.
The Lakers have $80.56 million in guaranteed contracts with eight players. Once the team finishes fleshing out the roster, the payroll should climb to roughly $85.2 million.
With $85.2 million in payroll, the tax would come to $24.8 million for a combined total of $110 million.
Should the team choose to use its one-time amnesty on Metta World Peace, replacing him with a rookie at the minimum, the Lakers' payroll would dip to about $77.9 million with $9.6 million in tax -- a total of $87.5 million.
"Amnesty" of World Peace looks like it would save the Lakers $22.5 million, but since he would still receive his $7.7-million salary, the net savings for the Lakers is about $14.8 million.
Only four players are eligible for amnesty (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake and World Peace).
Once the Lakers use their $3.2-million taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Chris Kaman, the team can only sign players to minimum contracts. Amnesty does not give the Lakers any additional spending power.
The Lakers haven't decided yet on amnesty. The window is July 10-16.
The team may choose to keep World Peace over $14.8-million savings, with hopes that the veteran forward can help the team compete this season.
The Lakers may not be a championship team as constructed, but the franchise doesn't appear willing to "tank" the season for a high lottery pick -- although arguably they should.
Had Dwight Howard re-signed for $20.5 million for the coming year, the Lakers would be looking at about $100 million in tax alone.
With such a drastic penalty, it's hard to imagine how the team would have been able to retain Pau Gasol at $19.3 million -- with trade or amnesty the likely outcome.
Instead, free-agent center Howard will depart for the Houston Rockets, making the Lakers' salary and tax far more manageable.
With last season's flat tax rate, the team paid $29.3 million in tax, for a total combined payroll of $129.2 million.
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Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.