Heisler Column: Morning in Lakerdom: $150 mill profits, Dwight and CP3 too?

LOS ANGELES — What was THAT about?

Chris Sheridan and I were both wrong on our predictions that the NBA would start on time (Chris), or by Dec. 1 (me).

On the other hand, actual events, which were always going to reveal the real deal, proved our basic premise:

The NBA was in far better shape than it claimed, citing $300 million annual losses, making a long work stoppage, as Spock used to say, most illogical (which in Vulcan can mean anything from foolish to out of their gourd).

I missed by 24 days, but David Stern, the sly fox, held one thing back. On the Sternian calendar, they can still play 66 games… as many as they would have starting Dec. 4 on the old schedule.

But enough about the bad old days…

*        *       *

It’s Showtime!

Or, at least, its latest incarnation hopes it still is, as a brilliant dawn rises once again over Lakerdom …

It’s not hard to tell who won this war–the owners, especially the big ones. Nor is it hard to tell which of them won the most:

That was Jerry Buss, the biggest of all.

When the NBA couldn’t get a full ban on sign-and-trades, it left his Lakers in position to pull off a coup they’re dreaming of, which would make signing LeBron James pale by comparison.

If Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wind up on the market — a safe assumption as far as I’m concerned — the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum for Dwight and Pau Gasol for CP3, or vice versa.

Nothing says that they will be enough to land either player, but it should put the Lakers in the running for both.

(Oh, and Dwight likes the Lakers. Asked which All-Star he would most like to play with last season, he answered “Kobe Bryant.”)

Nor will finances be a problem, ever again.

If all the owners are now in better shape than they have ever been, the richest will stay the richest, with the players giving back so much, the league won’t have to make the big teams take overly drastic hits to boost revenue sharing, now about 10 percent of baseball’s.

Meet the richest of all …

As far as his personal fortunes goes, Buss is like a proprietor of a mom-and-pop store, as Laker people put it, in a league full of billionaires.

Of course, that’s some mom-and-pop store.

If the Knicks are valued higher (Forbes had them at $655 million to the Lakers’ $643 million last season), that’s about to end, even with Madison Square Garden prices now slated to bring in $2 million per game.

Next season, the Lakers start their 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner, which will take them from their annual $30 million from Fox Sports West to $150 million.

On paper, that would put the Lakers, who now average a profit of $45-60 million, zooming past $150 million.

In fact, an informed source projects an even higher figure, in the $170 million range. (To put that in perspective, Forbes said the Knicks made a league-leading $64 million profit in 2009-10. The Lakers will more than double that.)

In either case, Jerry, Jim and Jeannie Buss are going to have a lot to say about what happens in this league for a long time …

Starting now?

Not so fast.

I know it seems like a long time ago, but the Lakers’ season didn’t end too well.

If you can remember back that far, they looked decrepit and faint-hearted as the Mavericks swept them, 4-0, showing no emotion, unless you count quitting and pouting, with Lamar Odom lollypopping backcourt passes and Bynum leveling J.J. Barea.

That was the note Phil Jackson left on, unlamented by management — demonstrating how he had no relationship with Jim Buss, his significant other’s brother — on his way out.

Then they hired Mike Brown, a decision widely torched by the local press.

(My choice would have been Jeff Van Gundy, whose years in New York showed he has the stage presence to stand a chance of replacing the Zen Spin Master. Brown is very nice but bland as it gets.)

Thankfully, the lockout then descended and everyone in Lakerdom fell into a deep, needed sleep.


Behold, a Laker season like all recent Laker seasons, but even more dramatic!

Between now and their hopes of landing Howard, Paul and/or Deron Williams lies the season, which, like all Laker seasons, can go either way, like a comet flaming across the sky, or cratering.

A great season will preserve their cachet, making them the sun of the NBA solar system.

A bad one like the one (2006-07) when Bryant tried to bail, wouldn’t leave them looking as good.

Brown did himself a lot of good by winning over Bryant, who had been fuming at having been left out of the loop, but that’s just the start.

Jackson’s genius lay in his constant, bemused self-assurance that allowed him to toy with expectations, calamity and the press corps like a seal with a beach ball on its nose.

Brown can’t calm stormy seas with a one-liner, so if this doesn’t start well, with Pau and Andrew aware of the speculation they’ll be gone, the usual jibes flung at Derek Fisher, et al …

Hey, if it was easy, anyone could do it. Phil Jackson, himself, only did it five years out of 11.

Mark Heisler is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops. His columns appear each Monday.


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  4. Momo says

    Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard straight-up deal (50% of happening)
    Andrew & Gasol for Dwight Howard (50% to 75% of happening)

  5. JP says

    we should accept the fact that the Lakers are the most profitable, marketable and popular team i basketball now. They have always done the right thing to ensure that their franchise player is always given ample to compete for a championship. It would benefit the whole league to keep the Lakers wining and successful. Further, it would be a waste to see these star go to other teams that will just waste their prime and never really compete for the championship.

  6. JJ says

    Just one small example of what I’m speaking about: He mentions “When the NBA couldn’t get a full ban on sign-and-trades, it left his Lakers in position to pull off a coup they’re dreaming of, which would make signing LeBron James pale by comparison.”

    Well first off, LA is at around 90M, which far exceeds the approx 70M luxury tax line and in light of this from the new CBA (although it’s not official yet): Teams more than $4 million above the tax level cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade transaction.

    That would be……………..The Lakers! Way over $4 million above the tax level, so ineligible for sign and trades as alluded to above.

    I might be able to give him the benefit of the doubt and pretend he was talking about EXTEND & TRADES. While those aren’t limited directly, they are in the sense that the extension in an extend-and-trade contract is limited to three total seasons (including the seasons remaining on their current contract).

    Really the only thing that has a shot is a straight up trade for either player, but again, he doesn’t really outline why it would be feasible and makes many other mistakes.

    Sheridan, I would like to write sometime so let me know if you’re interested!

    • BMAN says

      Study the facts before you put someone on blast…. The new CBA sign and trade rules do not go into effect until the start of the 3rd year of the new CBA. Therefore, the Lakers can be involved in sign and trades for the next two years regardless of how far they are over the cap…While it seems pretty far fetched for the Lakers to acquire both Paul and Howard, or even one of these studs, the rules do not forbid it from happening.

      • JJ says

        Except that Dwight Howard is not available for Sign & Trade. In his case it would be an Extend and Trade (like I said) which is clearly different, unless I am missing something? I did fail to mention that the S&T didn’t kick in until year 3 (which I agree was misleading) but wasn’t the point of what I said. The point was he didn’t frame any reasonable argument and used the wrong terminology (which again, if I am wrong about Dwight, I apologize).

  7. JJ says

    How is it possible the Sheridan lets that guy write articles like that? It is really a bad article that made zero sense. He claims the big owners won this deal yet doesn’t explain why (because its incredibly false) and then doesn’t outline at all how the Lakers would be able to attain Dwight or CP3 let alone both. This is like a bad homer post on a fan message board.

    WTF Sheridan?

  8. Matt Boikess says


    If you think for a second that CP3 is going to LAL over NYK youre nuts. CP3 has planned this since Carmelo’s wedding 2 years ago when Melo, Paul and Amar’e all agreed to join forces in NY with, oddly enough, Lebron James, as the driving force behind it. The ONLY thing that will stop Paul from going to NY is if the Knicks decide to pursue D12 over CP3. Amar’e still wants D12 more which is about the only thing that would prevent the Knicks from getting Paul but I think he’d “settle”. Considering the Knicks will actually have the cap space to make this happen, the Lakers will be lucky to get Paul or D12 but both is clearly not happening.

    • Paul Sharpe says

      Thank goodness he goes to NY… I’ll take Deron Williams over Paul in a heartbeat… Paul disappears WAY too often… No way I want him ‘trying’ to run/ruin my Lakers….

      • Matt Boikess says

        Yes hes terrible. Seriously. I mean he leads the freaking talentless hornets to the playoffs with nothing as far as viable starters go aside from Emeka Okafor and David West (and even he was out this year). You talking about the same CP3 who very nearly knocked out your mighty Lakers single-handedly this year?

        Im not hating on LAL…theyre the best run franchise in the game over the last 30 years. But you’re not getting Williams and Howard unless you give up Bynum and Gasol…you simply have no room to make that happen. And the CP3 hate is just ridiculous.

  9. Michael says

    With the league owning the Hornets, does anyone really believe the NBA would trade Chris Paul to the Lakers or Knicks? Especially after all that competitive balance garbage it was pushing this summer/fall.

    I think there would be some serious backlash by many owners if the NBA did that.

  10. MinneMike says

    Frankly, I’d rather see a league were well-matched teams decide who wins on the basis of their play rather than with the checkbook.

    • Michael says

      Well, you already saw that this past year. When you take into account all the Mavs injuries during the finals, they won the title with a team under the luxury tax. And the Heat, well they were already under the tax line.

      • p00ka says

        LMAO. That’s some creative twisting of the facts. You only want to count the uninjured players? Brilliant!!! The Mavs have been a luxury tax payer every year that Cuban has owned the team, second highest to only the Lakers last year, but lets only count the players who play, without accounting for the huge dollars they spent to enable them to have high paid backups. Hmmm, maybe you have a point: small market teams can compete if only they injure enough players on the big market teams.

  11. MinneMike says

    Welcome to the NBA, where 5 Harlem Globetrotters teams take on the Washington Generals. Now isn’t that exciting.

    • Mike says

      When those 5 Globetrotters belong to a team with a metropolitan population of 20 million, I don’t think the league can complain.

      The NBA can make noise about how more balance leads to closer, better games, which in turn leads to more profits due to increased viewership.
      That seems incredibly flimsy logic to me, but whatever. I have always believed a bell curve of 8ish good teams ( preferably more than a few in big markets ), 14ish average teams, and 8ish bad teams is the way to go.

      • DanH says

        Sure that Bell curve works – if the teams change what part of the curve they are in. If the teams remain stagnant in the same echelon, some teams are doomed to lose fans. Any good fandom can take a few years of rebuilding if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The issue lies when those 5 Globetrotter teams are always playing in the same cities.

    • Paul Sharpe says

      Sorry, van gundy would have been a Disaster!? One of the worst coaches I’ve seen in years…. The Busses would NEVER hire him…

  12. Chick's Ghost says

    No, there are no Chick clones anywhere. And I think that Chick, up in that great announcer’s booth in the sky, would urge the Lakers to spent their money on players, not announcers.

  13. Buddahfan says

    $150 in annual TV revenues and the best the Lakers can do is Bill MacDonald and John Ireland.

    Its obvious that very little of that $150 million a year will be going toward good TV announcers.

    Isn’t there a Chick Hearn clone out there somewhere?

    • Gregel says

      They couldn’t handle Spero’s ego and need to gets his possible TV career off the ground (not realizing that would come later after cementing himself as the new Laker voice for a generation). Or maybe Spero couldn’t fathom having to work with Stu Lance every night.

      Luckily, LA fans can always switch over the the Clippers for the impeccable and hilarious Ralph Lawler…

      • Buddahfan says

        I like Spero on the radio but I have never heard him broadcast a game on TV. An effective radio style doesn’t always translate to TV. Anyway, there are a lot of other announcers around who are better than JM and JI and who could be bought away from their current teams.

        I agree about Lawler and Smith. I really enjoy listening to them. They play off one another very well. Truly entertaining though I thought last season they went a bit over board on Blake. However, I can understand why. LOL

    • SoCalMike says

      I totally disagree about Billy Mac and John Ireland. Obviously, you haven’t watched the Fox Lakers Live pregame/postgame shows, where MacDonald shines. NO ONE could possibly replace ol’ Chickie, he set the bar so high it’s off the charts. But MacDonald does have the same self-depreciating sense of humor, the wit and is a longtime Laker fan who grew up going to games (remember, he teared up during a couple of those Purple Days, Golden Knights segments). I think the Lakers did great with their hirings (and I’m hoping the new network hires some better talent for the Galaxy games).

      As for CP3 and Howard? Wow. I do think Paul has his sights set on NYC, to form a ‘better-3′ than the trio in South Beach. But how about D-Will instead of Paul? That would work! He’s also more resilient and plays a more physical brand of basketball without the types of knee issues Paul has had.

      I’m just GLAD AS HELL the NBA is back!

      • Buddahfan says

        I have watched the Lakers pre-game and post-game shows many time and can’t stand them. Though they are not nearly as bad as Mike Bresnahan and all too often guest.

        They are so PC it makes me vomit. The only reason I have watched the show in the past is to see the Phil Jackson segment. He is a funny guy in addition to possessing great basketball knowledge.

        I only watch the post-game show when the Lakers lose. LOL

        • SoCalMike says

          Well at least you’re honest! Sure, the pregame/postgame shows on FSW are a homerfest, but aren’t they supposed to be? I grew up listening to LakerLine radio show Chick would host, and later Stu, which morphed into Bret Lewis, then Larry Burnett and I pretty much stopped listening once they took Burnett off the air for Matt Money Smith, the show wasn’t the same after Burnett left. Anyways, gotta have the Lakers pregame/postgame – it’s a ritual!

          Definitely they’re slanted toward the Lakers, but really it isn’t bad as other productions from other cities and at least they aren’t doing the show saying ‘we’ when talking about the Lakers. Norm Nixon does fine as an analyst and Billy Mac – well is there anyone who hates Billy Mac? I think you either like him, or you love him but I think there isn’t a person that hates him. I thought John Ireland did great as Clippers radio broadcaster back when he was at XTRA Sports Radio too.

          After Sunderland and Meyers (who had grown on me) there is no where to go but up. The Lakers weren’t about to bring in Marv Albert, who was available after Chick’s passing because he was too associated with the Knicks, but personally I’d have brought Marv in. Personally, Spero’s straight laced style wasn’t my cup of tea so I’m glad they didn’t bump him up. Lawler and Smith are fun to listen to, but they are Clipper men through and through.

          It just goes back to Chick. He was so good we could never find another announcer that will ever match or even come close.


  1. […] increased revenue sharing, the big market teams will still have the most money. Take the Lakers. As Mark Heisler pointed out yesterday, the Lakers will continue to be active as their annual profit soars to $150-170 million. Even as […]

  2. […] The Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers rumors originated in a blog by former AP and ESPN sports writer Chris Sheridan. In SheridanHoops.com, former Los Angeles Times NBA scribe Mark Heisler wrote: […]

  3. […] With the NBA offseason having been shortened significantly, we can expect the rumor mill to be churning out stories at three times the usual rate. After all, this thing has to be sorted out within a month. Any rumor is a possibility, so writers are going to print it. That being said, the Lakers are reportedly interested in acquiring both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. While that is nothing more than a rumor at this point, they could conceivably pull it off. […]

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