Lakers, Clippers Adjust Rosters
By Mitch Chortkoff
Any player on the roster of a National Basketball Association team on January 8 has his contract guaranteed for the rest of the season.
In view of that, the day of decision arrived for franchises this week. Teams out of playoff contention, especially, sought to reduce their financial obligation.
The Lakers released forward Shawne Williams, who had started several games at forward. The Clippers released guard Steven Jackson, a 13-year NBA veteran they had signed recently when forward Matt Barnes suffered an eye injury.
The bigger news was the Lakers' much-publicized interest in trading Pau Gasol and his $19 million contract resulted in no action.
The Lakers wanted to get out of Gasol's contract in view of their chances of making the playoffs dwindling. They sought a trade with Cleveland for center Andrew Bynum, who would quickly be released and they would gain $20 million in salary cap room to sign a star player next season.
The Lakers asked for more than Bynum and the Cavaliers wouldn't budge. After talks broke down the Cavaliers traded Bynum to Chicago for two-time all-star forward Luol Deng. As expected the Bulls released Bynum and they now have $20 million to spend on next season's free agents.
Bynum will clear waivers later this week and has market value as a reserve on a team in championship contention.
He can be signed for the NBA minimum and could be a helpful player in limited duty despite his erratic behavior first with the Lakers, then with the Cavaliers.
Gasol flew to Dallas with the Lakers, who lost to the Mavericks Tuesday night.
"It was a normal day for me," Gasol said. "I knew the rumors but I just packed my bag and went about my business. If I had been traded someone would have called me. But nobody did."
Gasol is regarded as a model professional who has served the Lakers well through the years despite often being the object of trade talk.
"He's been through this a lot," said Kobe Bryant. "Really, I think it's been every year except the two seasons when we won the championship."
There's a new problem for wealthy NBA teams this season. A repeater tax has been written into the rules, increasing the fine for going over the salary cap limit in two straight years.
The Lakers are over the limit and are hoping to get under it by the league's trading deadline in February. Trading Gasol remains an option likely to be explored.
Releasing Williams didn't help a lot because he's not a highly-salaried player.
The Clippers will be without all-star point guard Chris Paul for six weeks with a shoulder injury.
They've promoted his backup, former UCLA star Darren Collison, to a starting spot and signed a new backup, Darrius Morris to a 10-day contract.
The 6-foot-4 Morris, who came out of nearby Windward High to be a starter at Michigan, had played briefly for the Lakers last season and been mostly in the NBA's Development League.
In the Lakers' final game of last season when they were swept out of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, Morris scored 20 points.
But when the Lakers needed a point guard two weeks ago due to a series of injuries they bypassed Morris in favor of Kendall Marshall, another Development League player.
Bosmat Eynav and Steven Lieberman contributed to this article