Bernucca: Memo to Mitch Kupchak: Stop Haggling and Start Tanking

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Mitch Kupchak shouldn’t be playing hardball. kupchak

In his desire to trade Pau Gasol, the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers should not have insisted on receiving Dion Waiters or a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody has overpaid for a rental since Ernie Grunfeld sent Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton — and that was a long time ago.

Kupchak should have lowered his demands to match the team’s expectations. The Lakers are done for this season and should be singularly committed to one agenda: Making sure this rare down period for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises doesn’t last more than one season.

Kupchak should be tanking.

Some of the telltale signs already are in place. The Lakers have a bloated payroll of aging, overpaid players, almost all of them on expiring contracts. Injuries to their stars have hampered their ability to compete on their customary high level. They already are fading fast in the Western Conference playoff race.

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PODCAST: Memo to Cavs and Chris Grant: Fleece the Lakers while getting Pau Gasol

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Pau-Gasol4Andrew_Bynum_CavsThe Pau Gasol-for-Andrew Bynum trade talks appear to be dormant but not dead.

The Lakers would like to get another worthy asset thrown into in the deal … but so would the Cavs. And you know what? I have to side with the Cavs and general manager Chris Grant on this one.

By taking Gasol’s $19.3 million salary off the Lakers’ books, they will drop Los Angels below the luxury tax threshold, saving the Buss family in the area of $20 million. But that’s only the start of it. The Lakers also will be under the tax next season, and that gets them out of danger of being subject to the dreaded repeater tax, which is levied against teams that exceed the tax threshold four times in five seasons.

(RELATED: LAKERS SALARY CAP SITUATION AND ANALYSIS)

So it’s not just the current $20 million that the Cavs would be saving the Buss family, it is untold tens of millions more in two seasons when the Lakers figure to be a taxpaying team once again in the final season of Kobe Bryant’s extension.

So multiply that $20 million by a factor of at least two — probably more given the punitive nature of the repeater tax, and you get an idea of how valuable acquiring and waiving Bynum can be to the Buss family fortune.

Which is why if I am Chris Grant, I keep saying “no” to Los Angeles unless and until they throw Nick Young into the deal. And Nick Young is a much better player than most folks realize.

More on that trade, other trade chatter … and a closer look at the struggling Memphis Grizzlies (and a great Nick Calathes story) in this podcast with Three Shades of Blue radio on WHBQ radio in Memphis.

Current Basketball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Bernucca: Small Market Dilemma is the NBA’s Big Lie

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220px-JoeMaloofByPhilKonstantinThis summer, when your favorite team’s owner or GM tells you a certain player is financially out of reach, here’s how you know he is lying.

His lips are moving.

NBA business is booming, folks. And not just for the so-called big markets. Take a quick look at the conference finals, which feature four teams from middle to small markets collecting millions for every home playoff game.

Take a look at the Sacramento Kings, who were just sold for a record $525 million even though they haven’t been in the playoffs in seven years and play in an outdated arena in a small market.

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Ken Berger, Chris Bernucca, and Chris Sheridan; SH Radio – Feb. 25 Show

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SheridanHoopsRadio is back after a week-long vacation. Hosts Brian Geltzeiler and Tommy Dee were joined by CBS Sports’ NBA Columnist Ken Berger and SheridanHoops’ own Chris Bernucca. They’ed talked about the top 10 free agents in the upcoming offseason, Mark Cuban’s amnesty comment, and more.

Sheridan: Why Did Mark Cuban Suggest Amnesty For Kobe?

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Mark Cuban was speaking the truth when he asked whether the Los Angeles Lakers should give serious thought to using the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant next season.

Not that the Lakers would ever do it, but there is some sound financial reasoning behind Cuban’s statement.