Monday, August 16, 2010

Why the Lakers are stuck with Sasha Vujacic for next year

(Photo from NBCSports)
Before Shannon Brown was re signed to a two year deal, there were talks about how the Lakers and Brown were close to a deal but that it was dependent on whether or not Sasha Vujacic could be traded so they could use that $5.4 million and give it to Brown. Well, fast forward to a couple days ago and the Lakers went ahead and signed Brown anyway to the tune of $2.2 million this year and a player option for next year at $2.4 million (Brown has the choice to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and re enter the market).

Now the Lakers are supposedly trying to trade Sasha and his horrible horrible contract because they are well over the luxury tax threshold and Jerry Buss, while he loves winning championships, would like to do so at a "reasonable" price.

Well too bad. You are stuck with Sasha Vujacic. Here's why

Like I said, the Lakers are well over the Luxury tax limit. They're on tap for around $94 million and they just signed their two 2nd round draft picks which will probably be around another $1 million. Now they need to shed money and the likely candidates are Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton. These two players have already become the Adam Morrison and Sun Yue of the 2010-2011 season and the season hasn't even started.

But contract-ually speaking, Sasha is more moveable than Luke. Sasha is in the last year of his contract (due $5.4 million) while Luke has three more seasons at $5.2 mil, $5.6 mil, and $6.1 mil respectively. Add to that Luke's bad back problems he had last season, he's just not a sought after player as of right now. I mean, who would want a player who costs a lot who's going to be injured.

So Sasha Vujacic is on the trading block.

(Photo from Hoopedia)
Let me bring you back to the summer of 2008. The Denver Nuggets had two high priced players in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, along with a high priced Kenyon Martin and a $10 million dollar Marcus Camby. Nuggets didn't want to pay all of that and they needed to do a salary dump. So the Clippers came along and sent a 2nd round draft pick for the former defensive player of the year, always up there in the league leaders in defensive rebounds and blocked shots. A rip off trade, no? Well of course it is, but it was a salary dump. The Clippers had money to spend, and the Nuggets were spending too much.

Had the Clippers traded another $10 million dollar player for Marcus Camby, well there wouldn't be a point to that, would there? The Nuggets would still be spending a lot of money, and the Clippers would still have money to spend and another lost roster spot. OK back to Sasha. THIS MARCUS CAMBY DEAL IS WHAT THE LAKERS ARE TRYING TO DO RIGHT NOW. They want a future 2nd round draft pick (because 2nd round picks are not guaranteed contracts. They do not want a player of equal contract value because they are trying to get RID OF CONTRACTS. So for a team to take on Sasha, they would need to send a 2nd round draft pick, and a 2nd round draft pick ONLY.
OK, so why are the Lakers stuck with Sasha? Because Sasha, unlike Marcus Camby, isn't a defensive player of the year, doesn't put up great defensive rebound numbers or blocked shots... quite simply put, no one wants him. There isn't a team out there saying to themselves, "Man, we are so close to being a championship contender, all we need is... SASHA VUJACIC!" and no team is saying, "Man, we need to rebuild this roster, first things first, GET ME SASHA VUJACIC!"

But he's an expiring contract! Everyone wants an expiring contract! True. Expiring contracts are a great way to rebuild a team for the future and/or clear cap space for a big free agent during that year's summer. But here's the thing with expiring contracts: a team wants to get rid of a guy making the same amount of money during this year, but who also happens to be making more money in later years.

So let's take a random player from a random team making around the same $5.5 million Sasha's making, but is NOT in the last year of his contract: Mike Bibby from the Atlanta Hawks. Mike Bibby is scheduled to make $5.5 million this year and $6.2 million next year. If the Hawks wanted to clear cap space because they don't want to pay the $6.2 million to Bibby next year, they would do this trade. They'd get Sasha and the Lakers would get Bibby. The Hawks would pay Sasha's $5.5 million this year, and then he'd be a free agent. The Lakers would pay Bibby the $5.5 million this year, AND the $6.2 million next year that the Hawks didn't want to pay.

But don't you see... that's exactly what the Lakers don't want. They don't want to take on more contracts regardless of who it is because they are already over the luxury tax threshold.

In plain English: they want someone to take Sasha Vujacic for free, but no one wants Sasha Vujacic.

Therefore, the Lakers are stuck with Sasha Vujacic.

1 comment:

lakerfan said...