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Can the Lakers sign Chris Paul this summer?

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With the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers both exiting the playoffs in the first round this year, major changes could be on the way for both franchises this summer. Each team has a big name player who will become a free agent on July 1. Of course, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are the two players we’re talking about here.

The question many Laker fans have been asking since their team got knocked out of the playoffs is whether the Lakers can sign Chris Paul this summer. To hopefully clear things up, we’re going to run you through the different ways the Lakers can and can’t sign CP3 this off-season.

JUST SIGN PAUL TO A MAX CONTRACT

The Lakers are really rich, right? Yes, they’re worth about $1 billion, but they can’t delve into this fortune to just go out and sign players to huge deals due to the NBA‘s Collective Bargaining Agreement, also known as the CBA. Some parts of the CBA are specifically designed to limit the spending powers of NBA teams, which in theory should allow for a more competitive league. This means that even the richest clubs are limited when it comes to how much money they can offer players.

A salary cap is set each year – it was around $58 million for the 2012-13 season – and if you’re under the cap you can sign or trade for players until you reach the set amount. If you’re over the cap by a certain amount – last season it was about $70 million – you start paying luxury tax. The Lakers are set to be way over the cap next season. Even if Dwight Howard leaves in free agency, just the contracts of Kobe Bryant ($30.4 million), Pau Gasol ($19.2 million) and Steve Nash ($9.3 million) alone pretty much take the Lakers over the cap, so they have no space to sign Paul to the max contract that he is entitled to this summer.

NEXT PAGE: AMNESTY AND TRADE PLAYERS TO GET UNDER THE CAP, THEN SIGN PAUL TO A MAX CONTRACT

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Written by Ross Pickering

Ross Pickering is the founder of Lakerholicz.com. He's here to bring you daily updates on your Los Angeles Lakers, despite living 5,485 miles away from L.A. in England. You can follow him on Twitter: @RossPickering

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