The Los Angeles Lakers have assembled one of the most talented rosters in history this offseason, but any success is likely to be short-lived.
It will be tough for any team to top this squad next season. After acquiring two-time MVP Steve Nash, the team upgraded the frontcourt as well by trading for four-time All-NBA first team member Dwight Howard. Adding these stars to the base of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will make the Lakers almost unstoppable.
Even smaller acquisitions of Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks will add some impressive depth to this loaded team.
Unfortunately, this team is not built for long-term success.
Los Angeles will have the highest payroll in the NBA next season at about $99 million. The Brooklyn Nets will be the next closest at $82 million. For the upcoming year, this will not be too big of an issue as teams only have to pay a relatively small tax for going over the salary cap.
The NBA listed the tax level for the season at $70.307 million, and teams only need to pay $1 for every dollar over the mark. This means the Lakers would have to pay around $29 million as a tax for spending too much money. While this seems like a lot, one of the richest teams in sports should be able to handle this tab.
In the upcoming years, however, that number is set to increase greatly. ESPN's Larry Coon explains:
Starting in 2013-14 the new “incremental” tax takes over, where being $30 million above the tax line will mean paying a whopping $85 million tax bill. And it gets worse. Starting in 2014-15 teams will pay an even higher rate for being repeat offenders -- defined as paying tax in at least three of the four previous seasons. A team $30 million over the tax line will pay -- brace yourself -- an additional $115 million in luxury tax.
The last collective bargaining agreement included provisions to prevent organizations from creating super-teams like the one the Lakers assembled. Those rules have not all kicked in yet, but rosters full of high-priced stars will soon be a thing of the past.
Even for a team as successful as the Lakers, there is little chance anyone in the front office is willing to spend this much to stay over the salary cap.
Howard is in the last year of his contract this season. Los Angeles would like to re-sign the big man, but there is no guarantee either side will agree to a deal.
If the center wants to get a max deal, the organization will need to find a way to get rid of some of the other high-priced talent. Kobe Bryant ($28 million), Pau Gasol ($19 million), Steve Nash ($9 million) and Metta World Peace ($7 million) will not be able to coexist on paper. Win or lose this season, the Lakers will likely have to start getting rid of some of these pieces next summer.
Los Angeles attempted to secure the future when it acquired Howard. Unfortunately, the future will not be as bright as it seems right now.
Next season the team better play with an increased urgency, because it might be their last.
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