The Los Angeles Lakers made one move before the trade deadline on Thursday when they sent Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night in exchange for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. They were expected to make a few moves with the bigs they have on the roster, possibly moving Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, or even finally trading Pau Gasol after he's been in trade rumors for years.
But the Lakers aren't going to make any moves simply to dump salaries, according to Lakers' general manager Mitch Kupchak. That's not what they do. They make decisions based on basketball and not just the bottom line with salaries and the luxury tax in mind. From Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times:
"With this organization, that kind of relief is not really a big number," said Kupchak. "The financial aspect of what we do ... is not taken into consideration."
While the Lakers shopped players like Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill, ultimately none was moved. Why didn't the franchise make a greater effort to get out of the luxury tax?
"The organization is not motivated by saving 'X' amount of dollars," Kupchak said. "We were more concerned with making a basketball deal."
"I think the expression would be a 'salary dump.' That's not what this organization will do. If we could get picks or players that we felt good about going forward, then we would have done that. But we had opportunities to go below the threshold and we wouldn't do it."
There is certainly an smattering of bravado coming from these statements, which is fine. The Lakers are a proud organization, one of the most successful professional sports franchises, and a team that has a reputation for not quibbling over dollars when it comes to putting out a successful product. It's how they've done business for decades and it's never really been a problem for them.
In this collective bargaining agreement era, however, you need to be smarter about the way you operate. If they can get under the luxury tax, or at least the luxury tax apron, they may have more flexibility down the road by avoiding penalties and roster restrictions. While I get Kupchak doesn't want to make moves without getting a player or pick in return, the Lakers aren't going anywhere this season and would benefit from a little salary cap relief.
The principles and mystique of the Lakers are something that Kupchak needs to keep in mind, but is it really worth it this season when the only place to go is the lottery?