Complete Guide to the Los Angeles Lakers’ Salary Cap Situation

Dwight Howard holds the financial future of the Los Angeles Lakers in his oversized palms. Shaquille O'Neal, former Laker great at Howard's position, called Dwight out as if he's already made a decision (via Arash Markazi of ESPN). However, his mind is far from clear. 

That presents us with two monetary options to explore what moves the Lakers have on the table.

One, spend hundreds of millions to retain their broad-shouldered center and be otherwise limited. Two, maximize Pau Gasol's final year and add young athleticism via free agency and the draft. All spending should be responsible with respect to the preparation for 2014 free agency. 

Howard will command a maximum contract wherever he lands, but holding Dwight's Bird Rights—essentially a veteran exception that Dwight earned for longevity in Orlando with the Magic and brought with him via trade to Los Angeles—allows the Lakers to offer him the longest deal and thus the most money. He would command five years and earn $118 million if he chose to don Purple and Gold.

Doing so would severely limit the potential of ensuing free agency signings in 2013. Before any more moves, the Lakers of 2013-14 would owe Dwight $23.6 million on top of an already guaranteed $78.187 million to previously signed players. Among the lofty contracts are Kobe Bryant's $30.453 million, Pau Gasol's $19.286 million and Metta World Peace's $7.727 million assuming he picks up his player option. 

Given that the NBA salary cap is set to be at $58.5 million, Los Angeles will exceed it regardless of Howard's decision. Paying the luxury tax, for which the bar is set at $70.307 million, will only continue to grow more expensive (via Jason Patt of SBNation)

 Still, Kupchak seems convinced that No. 12 is the future. Take it from Mitch (per Mike Trudell of 

"We would try to do what the other teams will do, which is convince ...

About the Author