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New Lakers Coach Can Expect To Take Paycut

It probably already went without saying that whomever the Lakers hired to replace the retiring Phil Jackson as head coach would not earn as much as Jackson, who drew an eight-figure annual salary. But now we know for sure. The Lakers, who have the NBA’s highest player payroll, expect to pay their new coach between $3 to $5 million annually, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. As Bresnahan notes, that figure still represents an increase over the league-average coaching salary of $2 to $4 million.

The reason is simple: the Lakers need to cut expenses before the anticipated labor lockout next season. Coaching isn’t the only area management is trimming:

The Lakers have already informed more than a dozen employees from their scouting department, athletic training staff and video department that their contracts will not be renewed.

It’s a negative outcome for those employees, to be sure, but the Lakers, as always, are operating from a position of strength relative to other teams. They can afford to jettison salary this way, by letting support staff go, rather than by trading important players away for pennies on the dollar. That’s a reality other teams will face.

On the other hand, if even the Lakers need to cut back, this lockout is serious.