The Lakers are strongly considering waiving Brian Grant, using a clause in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement that would allow them to release the high-salaried forward acquired last summer in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.
The one-time exemption allows teams that pay the luxury tax to waive one player and erase his salary from their luxury-tax figure. The Lakers would still have to pay Grant’s salary, which would continue to count against the salary cap and keep the Lakers cap-strapped until the summer of 2007.
The Lakers would, however, save almost $30 million in luxury taxes over the next two seasons. Grant, who averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds last season and was bothered by knee and shoulder problems, will make $14.3 million next season and $15.4 million in 2006-07.
A decision on Grant, 33, would be strictly economic and would be made by Laker owner Jerry Buss, who has paid the luxury tax the last two seasons but could avoid a considerable hit for a player of limited value.
A team needier than a teenage girl, and it uses its first-round pick on a player they all admit will make minor impact next season.
Well, of course.
Mitch Kupchak’s “unlikely” scenario became reality when the Lakers selected Andrew Bynum — who’s had a driver’s license for a whole month now — with the 10th overall pick of the draft.
Bynum is 17 years old. His last game was for St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J.
He’s also a 7-foot, 285-pound center who plays with his back to the basket, has a nice touch and apparently oozes with potential.
“We thought it was an opportunity we could not pass up,” Kupchak said.
A team that a year ago still had the best center of his generation in Shaquille O’Neal is now hoping to find his replacement in a kid too young to vote.
It’s a gutsy pick by Kupchak, who risked further criticism over his drafting expertise and general managerial skills by gambling so much on such a great unknown.
Simple, logical, predictable — it’s all so unlike those zany Lakers.
Jackson, back home on the ranch, is expected to fulfill the three years on his contract and then call it a career. He needs help now. Needs a big man now. Could use a big ballhandler now.
And his top pick is a project.
“Certainly at 17, he has a long ways to go,” Kupchak said. “But at 7 feet, and with the reach of almost 7-6, and his athletic ability … ‘ ”
How could they say no?
Easily, really, what with several highly regarded players still on the board. Fran Vazquez, Sean May, Antoine Wright, Danny Granger, Hakim Warrick and Jarrett Jack were all still available with the 10th selection.
Though rebuilding isn’t Phil’s forte, was there really anyone left at number 10 (or available via trade) that would elevate LA to contender status?