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Lakers hit with whopping luxury tax bill

NEW YORK: The Los Angeles Lakers spent lavishly last season, and all it got them was a first-round exit from the playoffs, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Now it’s truly time for the Lakers to pay.
According to an report Tuesday night, the Lakers were hit with the largest luxury-tax bill in the league, and it wasn’t even close. The website reported that the Lakers must pay $29,259,739 in luxury tax, more than the combined total of the next two teams on the list.
Second was the Miami Heat with a $13,346,242 bill, though at least that helped buy the team a second consecutive NBA championship. The third-highest bill went to another first-round playoff loser, the Brooklyn Nets, who reportedly owe $12,883,647.
The only other teams reportedly owing luxury tax are the New York Knicks ($9,962,406), Chicago Bulls ($3,932,336) and Boston Celtics ($1,181,640).
The Lakers’ salary-cap situation is projected to improve greatly following the defection of free-agent center Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, plus the expected amnesty-related release of Metta World Peace.
The Orange County Register reported that waiving World Peace will result in a savings of about $30 million, more than half of that in luxury-tax payments.
The NBA released its salary-cap figures for the 2013-14 season Tuesday. The cap is set at $58,679,000, with the luxury tax kicking in above $71,784,000. In a change, the luxury-tax rates will rise incrementally depending how far above the salary cap teams go.
The minimum salary level for the upcoming season will be $52,811,000, 90 percent of the regular cap level.

Rockets fined $150,000 for Howard comments
The Houston Rockets talked too much, too soon about Dwight Howard.
A league spokesman confirms the team and its personnel were fined $150,000 by the NBA for comments made about the All-Star center during the moratorium period.
Howard committed to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join the Rockets on Friday, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey gave an interview later that night with Comcast SportsNet Houston in which he talked about the recruitment and landing of him. Coach Kevin McHale also discussed Howard over the weekend at the Orlando Summer League.
Though free agency opened July 1, deals can’t become official until Wednesday, after the 2013-14 salary cap is set. first reported the fine.

Bulls confirm agreement with Mike Dunleavy
The Chicago Bulls have confirmed they they’ve reached a contract agreement with veteran forward Mike Dunleavy.
The Bulls say they will introduce Dunleavy at a news conference Wednesday. They made the announcement late Tuesday, after the NBA’s moratorium was lifted.
Several outlets reported last week that the Bulls had agreed to a two-year deal with him in an effort to boost their shooting. Dunleavy, an 11-year veteran, spent the past two years with Milwaukee and averaged 10.5 points while shooting 42.8 percent on 3-pointers.
Besides adding Dunleavy, the Bulls are retaining veteran center Nazr Mohammed. He announced on Twitter last week that he would re-sign with Chicago. The Bulls are also expected to buy out veteran guard Richard Hamilton.

Ellington 3rd guard to join Mavs in free agency
Wayne Ellington has become the third guard to join the Dallas Mavericks in free agency.
Ellington tweeted late Tuesday night that he had agreed to a contract with Dallas. The deal is reportedly for two years and $5 million.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard split last season between Memphis and Cleveland. He was traded to the Grizzlies last summer and went to the Cavaliers midseason in a four-player deal.
The 25-year-old has never averaged double figures in four years, but did score 10.4 points per game in the second half of last season with Cleveland. His career scoring average is 6.9 points.
The Mavericks have also agreed to deals with Jose Calderon and Devin Harris. A fourth guard, Gal Mekel, is coming over from Israel.