LeBron James’ 1-Game Suspension Hurts the Lakers but Surprisingly Gives Them a $532,508 Benefit Off the Court

The Los Angeles Lakers grabbed a much-needed win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon. It came after an on-court altercation involving LeBron James and Pistons’ big man Isaiah Stewart. The incident led to suspensions that surprisingly helped the Lakers financially.

LeBron James receives one-game suspension

Before the Lakers pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback against the Pistons, things came off the rails after a physical altercation between James and Stewart.

The incident occurred during the third quarter as Jerami Grant attempted a free throw, with the four-time league MVP trying to battle for rebounding position. James decided to swing his left arm with a closed fist backward that smacked Stewart’s face.

The contact quickly led the two to interact with James trying to apologize for his actions, while Stewart progressively became angrier. The two players had to be separated as Stewart’s face became covered in blood due to a cut above his right eye. It quickly resulted in an emotional reaction with the Pistons big man aggressively trying to get past his teammates to confront James.

After initially being separated, Stewart tried to charge at James a second time, but each team’s coaching staff and arena security prevented it. It’s foreseeably led down the path of league action with James’ punishment surprisingly helping out the Lakers financially.

LeBron James’ 1-game suspension hurts the Lakers but surprisingly gives them a $532,508 benefit off the court

After the incident, the expectation became that James and Stewart would receive suspensions for their actions.

The NBA announced on Monday that the Lakers star will be suspended for one game without pay, costing him $284,004 for “recklessly hitting Stewart in the face, and initiating an on-court altercation.” James will miss Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks, marking the first suspension of his career.

Meanwhile, the Pistons big man received a two-game ban without pay, forfeiting $45,202 ($22,601 per contest) due to “escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing LeBron James in an unsportsmanlike manner.”

James’ punishment was a little lighter than expected. His actions were similar to what his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate J.R. Smith did to then-Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder in the 2015 playoffs. Smith received a two-game suspension for a backward closed fist hit to Crowder’s face.

James’ situation took a surprisingly financially beneficial turn for the Lakers. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reports that the team will receive a $142,002 credit toward the luxury tax that will save them a projected $532,508. The money is half the amount of what James will lose from missing one game.

Teams in the luxury tax by $1 to $4.9 million must pay $1.50 on each dollar spent over the limit. The number progressively increases the further franchises venture over the salary-cap threshold, as the Lakers are trajected to pay around $45 million.

Although the $532,508 doesn’t make much of a dent, it does lessen the financial blow slightly.

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Beyond the financial consequences, James’ suspension sidelines him for Tuesday’s contest against the Knicks.

The Lakers are looking to build off their encouraging fourth-quarter showing in the comeback win over the Pistons. Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis combined for 27 of the team’s 37 points in the final period.

Los Angeles will need their star power to lift them over a struggling Knicks team that has lost four out of their last six games. New York holds a 4-5 home record, while the Lakers possess a 2-4 road mark.

Davis has picked up his play over the last couple of weeks, as he’s coming off back-to-back 30-point performances, including three such outings in the previous five contests. Meanwhile, Westbrook will have the opportunity to build off his near triple-double outing against Detroit.

Davis and Westbrook must guide them forward without James if the Lakers hope to stay in the win column.

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