Considering the name calling this little nugget of information in relation to the Luxury Tax might come in handy:
The Lakers' payroll is slightly more than $100 million this season and will probably be in that same range next season if Howard re-signs in the offseason.
This is the last season of a dollar-for-dollar penalty for teams over the luxury tax limit ($70.307 million this season). Beginning next season, the luxury tax starts at $1.50 per dollar and escalates for every $5 million a team is over.
If the Lakers are $30 million over, their luxury tax bill would be a whopping $85 million next season.
If L.A. trims the payroll down to $20 million over the tax, the Lakers still would get hit with a $45 million bill. And they'd be subject to the even heavier repeater rate in 2014-15, although Steve Nash's $9.7 million salary is the only contract on the Lakers' books for that year right now.
Next season is the Lakers' last chance to amnesty a player, and Bryant is one of four players the Lakers can do it to. The others are Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. If the Lakers waive any one of those players this summer, they would not have to pay luxury taxes on their salaries, but they would still have to pay that player's salary.
So yeah, having nothing but cap space can be a HUGE asset since most teams over the luxury tax will want to get under the threshold... and the only way to do that is to shed salary.
Granted, some teams might not mind being over the threshold... but consider that most teams balked at paying $1 for every $1 they were over the tax... now it's going to be $1.50 for every $1!
How many teams do you think will be willing to pay the luxury tax now?