The Lakers made two moves today in pursuit of two goals: winning the 2012 NBA title and saving money. They indisputably accomplished the latter, as today’s swaps will save the Lakers about $1.7 million in player salary for this season and as much as $8 million next season, depending on how the Lakers and a few players handle their contract options. You can double the savings, since the Lakers are miles over the luxury-tax threshold, and you can tack on even more, since the Lakers dealt away two first-round draft picks in the process — picks that will turn into players guaranteed money.
It remains to be seen whether the deals helped the Lakers mediocre offense enough to vault them into title contention.
• The Lakers traded Derek Fisher and a 2012 first-round draft pick (formerly the Mavericks’ property) to Houston for Jordan Hill, who earns about $550,000 less than Fisher this season and can be released cost-free after the playoffs. Fisher, on the other hand, has a $3.4 million player option for next season, and given his love for the Lakers and the fact that he could not get that kind of money on the open market, it was a certainty that he would exercise that option had the Lakers kept him.
• In a deal that should be the headliner, the Lakers traded Luke Walton and Jason Kapono — one player who was totally out of their rotation, and one on the fringes — to the Cavaliers in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga. The Lakers tossed their 2012 first-rounder to Cleveland and gave the Cavs the right to swap first-round picks with Los Angeles in the 2013 draft if L.A.’s pick ends up higher than the Miami selection the Cavaliers own via the LeBron James sign-and-trade. That is a valuable little asset for Cleveland, considering the Heat are likely to finish with the best or second-best record in the league next season, barring injury.
Taking on Luke Walton’s $5.8 million salary hurts and probably amounts to overpaying for an extra pick, but the Cavs are still flush with cap room going forward regardless, and it’s not as if they are primed for a giant free agent spending spree this summer. It’s a high price for a low pick, but if Dan Gilbert is willing to pay it, hey, good for him.