Cavs, Lakers Discussing Bynum, Gasol
December 31 at 7:51am CST By Luke Adams
Nearly 17 months after they sent him to the Sixers, the Lakers are mulling the possibility of reacquiring Andrew Bynum, according to Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The ESPN duo reports that the Lakers and Cavaliers have had discussions about a trade that would sent Bynum back to Los Angeles in a package for Pau Gasol. No deal is imminent, but the two sides are weighing their options in advance of January 7th, this seasonís contract guarantee deadline.
By trading Gasol for Bynum, and subsequently waiving Bynum before his full 2013/14 salary becomes guaranteed in January, the Lakers could potentially get out of luxury-tax territory for this season, depending on what other pieces were included in the deal. At the very least, it would significantly reduce the teamís payroll and tax bill, and would give L.A. more financial flexibility going forward. Since Gasolís full-season salary is worth about $7MM more than Bynumís, the Cavs would have to include at least one other player in the hypothetical swap for it to work under CBA rules. Adding C.J. Miles, or any player or combination of players earning more money than Milesí $2.25MM, would make a Gasol/Bynum trade legal.
Still, the Lakers would have a hard time parting with Gasol without receiving some assets of value in return, according to Windhorst and Sherburne. Given the clubís storied history, a simple salary dump likely isnít in the cards, even if the ability to avoid the repeater tax would be extremely beneficial. The ESPN duo notes that thereís still a strong organizational sentiment within the Lakers to let the current group get healthy and try to contend before the front office does anything drastic.
As for the Cavs, they also pursued Gasol in the summer, conducting extensive discussions with the Lakers before Dwight Howard signed with the Rockets, according to the ESPN report. Windhorst and Shelburne also suggest that Cleveland has engaged in talks with the Bulls about a similar deal that would involve Bynum and Luol Deng. Like the Lakers, the Bulls could get out of tax territory, or at least very close to it, by swapping Deng in a package for Bynum, then cutting the big man before his $12.25MM salary becomes guaranteed. However, Chicago still doesnít seem inclined to move Deng at this point.
Cost-cutting moves by teams like the Lakers and Bulls, who are typically perennial contenders, may not have even been considered if not for the new CBA. As Windhorst points out (via Twitter), the new luxury tax, and the repeater tax in particular, is far more punitive than it was a few years ago, so clubs with expensive, non-contending rosters may be more inclined to cut their losses. Whether or not the Lakers or Bulls opt for that route, itíll be something to watch closely as 2014′s trade deadline approaches.