So much for “forging ahead with what we’ve got,” as Mitch Kupchak said in the aftermath of Andrew Bynum’s injury this week.
The Lakers on Saturday, traded oft-maligned sharp-shooter Vladimir Radmanovic to the Charlotte Bobcats for former lottery pick Adam Morrison and guard Shannon Brown.
While it may at first seem like this deal is exchanging one space cadet for another, I actually think it’s a great deal for the Lakers. Radmanovic has fallen out of the rotation and turned increasingly surly in the locker room. A few weeks ago, he was benched for over-sleeping and arriving in the last five minutes of a shoot-around. He also has had several uncomfortable conversations with coach Phil Jackson about his diminished role, and made no secret of his displeasure with his reduction in minutes.
But the most overriding positive to this deal is financial. The Lakers get out from under Radmanovic’s burdensome contract, which was paying him approximately $13.4 million over the next two seasons.
Brown’s deal expires after this season, and Morrison has just one more guaranteed year on his rookie contract after this season. The team can extend him a qualifying offer for the 2010-11 season, or it could let him leave as an unrestricted free agent if he hasn’t figured out how to translate his game — which made him a star at Gonzaga not so long ago –to the NBA by then.
Morrison is under contract for approximately $4.159 million this season and $5.257 million next season. His qualifying offer would be $6.897 in 2010-11. So if the Lakers don’t extend a qualifying offer to Morrison two years from now, they’d have saved about $8 million over the next two seasons (Radmanovic’s $6.883 million salary in 2010-11 and the $1.169 difference between Radmanovic’s salary and Morrison’s salary in 2009-10).
That’s no small change for a team facing exorbitant luxury tax bills over the next few seasons with new multi-year deals due for Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, plus potential long-term deals for Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza.