Will the Lakers trade Pau Gasol to the Cleveland Cavaliers before Andrew Bynum's contract becomes fully guaranteed?
According to a late-night tweet Saturday from ESPN-LA 710 Radio, the answer is yes ... or maybe no.
"BREAKING NEWS — League sources say Pau/Bynum deal is done and happening Sunday," read a tweet from the @ESPNLA710 feed.
Soon after, ESPN-LA reporter Ramona Shelburne gave a different take.
Lakers vehemently deny Pau trade is done. Vehemently deny. Aren't budging from stance that they want asset for Gasol— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 5, 2014
It wasn't long before the @ESPNLA710 account pulled its original tweet, followed by an apology.
We apologize for any confusion our earlier tweet about Pau Gasol may have caused.— ESPNLA 710 Radio (@ESPNLA710) January 5, 2014
The earlier tweet from this account regarding Pau Gasol was not authorized and did not meet the appropriate standards of reporting.— ESPNLA 710 Radio (@ESPNLA710) January 5, 2014
Bynum, originally drafted by the Lakers with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, is under contract for $12.25 million for the current season, but only $6 million is guaranteed.
If the Lakers were to trade Gasol and his $19.3-million contract, subsequently waiving Bynum before Jan. 8, the team would successfully trim about $13.3 million off its salary cap, dropping the Lakers under the league's $71.7-million tax threshold.
The Lakers are currently on track to pay $12 million in luxury-tax penalties, putting the combined savings in the $25.3-million range.
Complicating matters, the Cavaliers need to send out at least $14.3 million in salary to legally absorb Gasol's contract. Cleveland would need to send out at least another $2 million in player contracts, such as C.J. Miles or Alonzo Gee, or even a combination of players such as Matt Dellavedova and Tyler Zeller, among other options.
Another obstacle for the Lakers is that they have a full roster of 15 players. If the Cavaliers are sending out more than one player to match salaries, the Lakers would have to cut or trade players currently on the roster to make room.
A three-team deal might make more sense for the Lakers, but that too is difficult to achieve.
The Lakers want talent back for Gasol but the temptation to save significant money has to be strong.