How a possible lockout affects the Lakers
Here's a look at how the possibility of an NBA work stoppage affects the Lakers organization and some of their players and executives.
Lakers: In 2012-13, the Lakers begin a 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable that The Times' Bill Plaschke reported could be worth as much as $3 billion. The Lakers already made plans in anticipation of a possible work stoppage, with The Times' Mike Bresnahan reporting the organization will not offer new contracts to about 20 key employees on their player-personnel side. Bresnahan reports that Lakers assistants Brian Shaw, Chuck Person, Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons have contracts that expire on June 30. Part-time assistant coaches Craig Hodges and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are also in the last years of their contracts, and two members of the team's video department, Chris Bodaken and Patrick O'Keefe, were told they won't have contracts at the end of the season.
Derek Fisher: Being the president of the NBA Players' Assn., he's at the forefront of negotiating a new collective-bargaining agreement with the league owners. The Times' Broderick Turner reported the owners presented an offer last week that entailed a hard salary cap, significant rollbacks in existing contracts and a larger share of the basketball-related income, a proposal Fisher in his exit interview called "disappointing." Even with the labor agreement expiring June 30, Fisher said he feels "hopeful and optimistic" a lockout can be avoided.
"There's a lot at stake," he said. "I think both sides, as bad as we want to get a deal done, we're still going to be very careful about how we proceed with these matters. As much as the NBA speaks about the future of the game and trying to protect the game itself, that's a priority of ours as well.... The goal is to get a deal done and not necessarily rush through it, but to try and get something done that will sustain us for the next several years to come."
Kobe Bryant: Even with a possible work stoppage on the horizon, Bryant remains reluctant to get surgery to treat the arthritis on his index finger because he wants to be ready for a full 2010-2011 season. Bryant is opting to build his leg strength this summer rather than rest his surgically repaired right knee and sprained left ankle. Expect him to be in even more frequent contact with teammates and make sure they're doing the necessary off-season work to stay ready. Nonetheless, losing playing time to a work stoppage won't sit well with Bryant, who's trying to collect as many NBA championships and move atop the NBA's all-time scoring list as quickly as possible.
Still, Bryant told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that he'd stick up for the players union: "I’m 100 percent in this fight. I’m not going to just sit here and give back what guys have fought for in this league long before I got here -- not for us now, or the players who come after us. I’m not backing down." During his exit interview, Bryant seemed to backtrack a little, joking, "I like getting foul calls."
Ron Artest: In another effort to help his mental health charities, Artest plans to announce on July 1 how much of his $6.79 million salary he'll donate. But he doesn't know the exact figure yet because of the labor situation, although Artest didn't exactly say it in those terms because of the possibility he'd be fined.
"I can't talk about it too much because I don't know what's happening with everything going on," Artest said. "But we're going to figure out what's going on with basketball. I don't want to get fined, so I can't [say]. We'll figure out what's going on with basketball and then figure out how much of the salary we're going to donate next year."
Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown: Neither went into specifics on whether the possibility of a lockout would play a role in their decisions on free agency, but on a practical level, it will. Barnes and Brown refused to discuss whether they'd opt out of the final year of their contracts, though both expressed an interest for playing for the Lakers.
Barnes, who has an option next season worth $1.91 million and has played on eight teams in his eight-year career, has often mentioned his desire for stability and told Bresnahan he is "comfortable" exercising his option to stay with the Lakers. Brown, who has an option next season worth $2.37 million and received what Bresnahan characterized as a "lukewarm response" during free agency last season, acknowledged to Bresnahan that testing free agency again would be the "best scenario" but made it clear he hadn't made a decision.
Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Trey Johnson: It remains unclear what their future with the Lakers entails. Should there be a lockout, there's a possibility there would be no Las Vegas Summer League, though the NBA has said no decision has been made.
Mitch Kupchak: He declined to say whether a lockout would affect the search to replace Phil Jackson. But it'll affect how the Lakers navigate free agency and structure their roster.
Lamar Odom: He had joked during the season that he didn't worry about burning out from heavy playing time following a stint with Team USA because there may be a lockout anyway. Amid all the questions surrounding whether he could handle the time demands of filming a reality television show with Khloe Kardashian, Odom also joked he's making contingency plans for a work stoppage.
Pau Gasol: He is strongly considering playing for the Spanish national team this summer, and the reasons go beyond wanting to immediately bounce back from a disappointing playoff performance. With a possible lockout looming, playing internationally will be the best way to stay in shape and pass the time.
Phil Jackson: Jackson ended his last day as the Lakers head coach Wednesday after finishing exit interviews, but he had acknowledged during the season that the possibility of a lockout figured into his decision to retire. Naturally, the remarks drew a league-imposed $75,000 fine both on him and the Lakers.
-- Mark Medina
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