The Los Angeles Lakers’ cap space could cause them to miss out on signing a max-level player in NBA free agency. After the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers were initially projected to have between $27.8 million and $32.5 million, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However, the Lakers cap room now appears to be lower at $24 million because of a bonus owed to Davis as well as the timing of the trade, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“They needed a July 30th completion of this deal with that No. 4 pick in it to be able to have around $32 to $33 million in cap space to have enough for a max deal,” Wojnarowski reported on Sportscenter. “Right now, they are closer to $24 million and there is no A-list star that is going to take that kind of discount. Really, even any of the b-list stars [are unlikely]. Right now, it looks like they would probably want to break up that $23 to $24 million to bring in multiple players. Given how barren the rest of their roster is right now, they don’t even have a starting five, that’s probably the better route for the Lakers to go.”
Unless the Lakers are able to clear more space, this means a player like Kawhi Leonard would have to take a pay cut of about $8 to $9 million per season to play for L.A. Since news broke about the Lakers’ cap space situation, the Lakers have been rumored to be attempting to move salaries to gain space, per ESPN.
The Lakers were engaging additional teams on Tuesday to take on the contracts of three of the remaining five players on the team’s roster — Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones — league sources said. Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James are the only other two Lakers remaining on the team’s end-of-season roster.
The Lakers Did Not Fully Consider the Timing of the Trade
Given the Lakers only have five players on their roster (two include Anthony Davis and LeBron James), their attempts to clear cap space is going to be extremely challenging. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that the Lakers did not fully consider the timing and salary cap ramifications of the trade (via Silver Screen and Roll).
It’s all so unnecessary, too. Like, the way this trade was constructed, this should have been first and foremost on their minds as they were talking to the Pelicans in a way where they set themselves up. If this was really their plan — that they want to have a third star — this should have been central to the conversations with the Pelicans and my understanding is that it was not. They went all the way down the road and it’s been described to me as a, ‘The Lakers called back,’ after everything had been discussed about this — the timing.
ESPN reported that the Lakers are now trying to restructure the trade with the Pelicans to create more cap room. As of now, the Lakers are going to find it difficult to sign an All-Star via free agency unless something changes.