Next season, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are scheduled to earn about $62 million, an enormous percentage of a luxury tax level that figures to be in the $72 million range.
‘‘I just don’t see how teams are going to be able to afford to do that anymore,’’ one league executive said. ‘‘Not only are there financial penalties to think about, but operational penalties as well that will make it very difficult.’’
Still, some teams might take the tax hit.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said repeatedly they intend to keep center Dwight Howard, and re-sign him to an extension this summer that will pay him more than $20 million annually. With Kobe Bryant due more than $30 million and Pau Gasol another $19 million-plus next season, that would likely put the Lakers at the luxury tax level with just those three players. And Brooklyn’s mega-billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has said repeatedly that money is no object for him in chasing a title.
And if superstars want to continue teaming up in trios to tackle the rest of the league, they may have to take bigger discounts to do it.
‘‘It’s not all about money,’’ James, who could be a free agent after next season, said earlier this year. ‘‘It’s about winning. I know that and I don’t mind.’’
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AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis and AP freelance writer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.