Los Angeles Lakers to Ask Top Executives to Defer Salaries to Protect Low-income Workers

The Los Angeles Lakers will reportedly ask their top executives to defer a percentage of their salaries to ensure staff on lower incomes don't have to make financial sacrifices in an already challenging economic climate.

According to The Athletic and ESPN, selected executives among the franchise senior-level personnel will be asked to voluntarily defer 20 percent of their paycheques. Valued at approximately $4.4 billion by Forbes' latest estimate, the Lakers are the second-most valuable franchise of the 30 NBA teams and the decision to ask executives to make a financial sacrifice came after the team's ownership consulted financial analysts.

Team president Jeanie Buss and her family are the Lakers' majority owner controlling 66 percent of the franchise, while the AEG consortium holds approximately 27 percent of the team and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is a minority owner with a stake of around 5 percent.

Late last month, the NBA announced a similar salary-deferment scheme for its top-paid executives worldwide.

News of the Lakers asking members of their senior personnel to defer their salaries comes only a few weeks after the franchise moved to offer financial support to approximately 2,800 arena workers at Staples Center, whose source of income has disappeared after the NBA and the NHL suspended their seasons because of the coronavirus outbreak last month.

Along with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Kings—the Staples Center's co-tenants—the Lakers have set up a fund worth over $5 million to cover the wages of arena workers.

The move mirrors actions taken by the Portland Trail Blazers last month, who set up a fund to cover $1.4 million worth of wages for 1,000 arena workers.

The Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards have also all pledged to help arena workers until the season resumes and the league is working in partnership with them.

Players have also dug into their own pockets to help arena workers. Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2019 first overall draft pick Zion Williamson and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love each donated $100,000 to workers at their respective home court arenas who face layoffs or furloughs while the NBA suspends its season indefinitely.

The NBA halted the season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for coronavirus and commissioner Adam Silver said this week the league will not decide on any possible resumption date until the beginning of next month at the earliest.

"Essentially what I've told my folks over the last week is we should just accept that at least for the month of April, we won't be in a position to make any decisions," he said in an interview with TNT's Ernie Johnson, which was broadcast on the NBA's Twitter page.

"I don't think that necessarily means that, on May 1, we will be [in that position], but at least I know that just to settle everyone down a little bit.

"It doesn't mean that, internally, both the league and discussions with our players and the teams we aren't looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season, but I think it honestly is just too early, given what's happened right now, to even be able to project or predict where we will be in a few weeks."

As of Wednesday morning, almost 400,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally in the world. Almost 13,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 22,500 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 82,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 1.4 million confirmed cases globally, with over 301,000 recoveries.

NBA, Staples Center
The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on March 12. The home of the Lakers, Clippers and Los Angeles Kings has not seen live sport since the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons last month. Harry How/Getty