Steve Blake was traded to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in exchange for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, signaling the start of the Los Angeles Lakers’ fire sale.
Though Mitch Kupchak said just last week that avoiding the repeater tax is not something the Lakers are concerned about, it seems the team has been aiming to acquire assets in exchange for expiring contracts this trade season while attempting to move below the luxury tax line in the process. The Blake trade helped with this on both accounts, seeing as L.A. picked up two young players that they can audition for the rest of the season while edging ever closer to moving below the luxury tax line.
Also, this deal may just mean that Pau Gasol will play out his contract with the Lakers.
After the trade went down, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Lakers may abandon the idea of trading Gasol. Seeing Blake has now been traded, simply moving Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman would shed enough salary to take the Lakers below the luxury tax threshold without having to send Gasol to another team.
The fact that this is now an option for the Lakers may end up working as leverage in a potential Gasol deal. In the past, teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns have tried to shortchange the Lakers in a deal for the Spaniard by pointing out how a trade would take the Lakers below – or just above – the tax line.
Now, teams can see the Lakers clearly have a backup plan and could simply ship Hill and Kaman out of town to move below the tax threshold. This could mean that teams will now offer more than before in exchange for Gasol.
Then again, the Lakers could simply shed the contracts of Hill and Kaman and keep Gasol for the rest of the year, a move that would probably be best for the franchise PR-wise.
Either way, the purple and gold have some big decisions to make within the coming hours.
The trade deadline is set for Thursday at 12:00 PM PST.