Should Lakers Shift Focus to Mid-Tier Free Agents?



Acquiring Anthony Davis from the Pelicans put the Los Angeles Lakers into great position to make a 2019-20 title run, but it came with a hefty price tag. The Lakers sent Lonzo BallBrandon IngramJosh Hart and a handful of future draft picks — including this year’s fourth selection — to New Orleans in exchange for Davis.

The only issues with that situation are the potential negative ramifications that come along. Los Angeles was projected to have around $32 million in cap space to make a move for a third max-contract player. But the timing of the deal has put the Lakers in a scenario where they’ll likely have just about $23-24 million in cap space instead. Players like Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving or even recently injured free agent targets like Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant won’t be willing to take an $8-9 million pay cut.

Can the Lakers create enough space?

Completing the trade as is, the Lakers would not need to match any salary with the Pelicans, as they are currently under the salary cap. Davis’s contract includes a $4 million trade kicker and it’s very unlikely he would deny taking it, though if waived this would leave the Lakers with $27-28 million in cap space. That amount may be more lucrative to players interested in joining L.A. If the Lakers can convince the Pelicans to hold their deal’s completion until the 30th of July, they might have the ability to sign a max player.

Signing one of the aforementioned players plus the Davis trade would push the Lakers over the salary cap, requiring them to match with New Orleans. They would then trade the fourth pick of the draft (De’Andre Hunter), and according to Adrian Wojnarowski, they would also look to include players like Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga to the deal to create space needed for a third max contract.

Other Mid-Tier Options?

If things don’t pan out the way the Lakers hope over the next few months, they will have to turn their focus towards filling the roster with role players around AD, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. The pool of free agents outside of the top players is a great area for the Lakers to keep their eye on. Players like DeMarcus Cousins, Ricky Rubio, Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic and DeAndre Jordan would all be great additions and would bring depth to positions the Lakers need.


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