Answers to readers’ questions

Harry emails to ask “what’s the big deal” about the re-signing of Derek Fisher?

Answer: The Lakers have won five NBA titles with Fisher and Kobe Bryant playing the guard positions. Sure, Fisher struggles to guard some of the fast young point guards in the league, but who on this planet can stop Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook or Aaron Brooks with any consistency? Fisher’s leadership is what’s important to the Lakers. He also has a knack for hitting big shots in big games. Remember, the Lakers believe they can win a third straight title, so losses to Houston or Charlotte during the regular season aren’t the end of the world. Fisher has been on the winning team in 33 playoff series, the most of all active players in the NBA. He also has 212 3-pointers in the playoffs, second all-time. That’s part of the reason the Lakers wanted him back on their roster for next season.

Blue Bruin asks: Are the Heat allowed to blast through the salary cap and pay the luxury tax like the Lakers are doing?

Answer: No. The Lakers’ payroll, which will top $90 million for the second straight season and will above the salary cap of $58 million for 2010-11, are in a different situation than the Heat. The Lakers’ payroll is so high largely because they have re-signed their own players to expensive new deals over the last few years. Teams can do this under league rules. The Lakers couldn’t go out and sign LeBron James because they couldn’t add his salary because they’re already over the cap. Does that make sense?
Teams like Miami must shed players and their salaries in order to clear the necessary salary cap space in order to sign players from other teams like LeBron James and Chris Bosh. That’s why the Heat traded Michael Beasley and his $5 million salary to the Minnesota Timberwolves, for instance. Miami team president Pat Riley could re-sign his own players, including Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem but he can’t offer more than the midlevel exception (about $5.8 million) or the veteran’s minimum (about $1.3 million) to free agents from other teams. There’s more to it, but those are the basics.

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