The Lakers have struggled to improve their current roster because they are limited by the NBA’s new labor contract. As a “luxury-tax team,” the Lakers have fewer tools to sign players than teams with much lighter payrolls.

For example, the move that allowed the Lakers last summer to bring in Steve Nash is gone. Nash, a free agent, was acquired via a “sign-and-trade” with the Phoenix Suns for draft considerations.

But as a tax-paying team, the Lakers are now forbidden to sign-and-trade for players — one of the many rule changes limiting big-budget franchises.

Longer-term, the Lakers’ rebuilding plans will depend in part on how willing they are to pay the NBA’s increasingly punishing taxes on teams carrying big payrolls.

Each year the NBA sets a spending limit that triggers the luxury tax. In eight of the last 10 seasons, the Lakers have willingly crossed that line. The penalty has been a dollar-for-dollar tax, costing the Lakers a cumulative $113.7 million since the 2002-03 season.

Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times