Wednesday , Mar , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Barnes in, Artest out for Lakers?

The Lakers have some personnel decisions awaiting them at the end of the season. Nothing major, but the reserves could be affected.  It’s a tad early to say for sure, but Matt Barnes says he is comfortable with exercising his $1.91-million player option to stay next season.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Matt Barnes exercising the clause on his contract and staying with the purple-and-gold through 2012 for a reasonable $1.9 million gives the Los Angeles Lakers options.

Options are always good, especially when the league’s financial landscape is bound to change with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The new CBA will be more restrictive. No doubt about it. For instance, loopholes like the mid level exception and veteran’s minimum will surely be eliminated.

And the luxury tax and soft cap that served the wealthy Lakers so well could be replaced by a hard cap and/or revenue sharing to encourage parity amongst the league’s 30 franchises.

Obviously, the Lakers want to keep Ron Artest and Barnes; however, having two similar players may be an unaffordable luxury. It all depends on whether the new CBA grandfathers expensive contracts from the old system.

The Lakers, who are scheduled to pay $92 million in salary next year, may be in a financial mess and have no choice but to cut costs. Artest –the cult hero, fan favourite, and lockdown defender- becomes far more expendable if Barnes is around.

After all, Ron-Ron is owed $22 million over the next three years, while Barnes comes in at a fraction of the cost.

So today is a good news, bad news situation. Barnes wants to stay through 2012. What does that mean for Artest, though?

–Oly Sandor.

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