The Los Angeles Lakers have $32 million in salary cap room when NBA free agency starts, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Lakers were initially not going to have the necessary cap space to sign a max free agent, but L.A. was able to add the Wizards to the Anthony Davis trade.
The Lakers traded Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Wizards to clear enough room to add a third max player. Worst case scenario is the Lakers would be about $700,000 short of the max amount, per Marks.
The mindset for now for LAL is to use the $32 million salary slot on one All-NBA player or split the money up between 2-3 players. Washington will take back the players sent from Los Angeles with the $5.45M trade exception that was created in the Dec. 2018 Jason Smith trade…
Here is the timeline on how the Lakers will utilize cap space on July 6:
Step 1: Use the $32M in room in free agency
Step 2: Conduct the Anthony Davis trade (acting as a team over the cap) using the 125% trade exception…
The cap space for Lakers before the Davis trade is at $32M-based on a $109M cap. The cap hit for no. 4 and room is fluid based on the final cap numbers not finalized. Would not think $700K short for a max player would be a deal breaker.
Anthony Davis Waiving His $4 Million Trade Kicker Is Key to the Lakers Having Cap Space
All of these trades would have been inconsequential had Davis opted not to waive his $4 million trade kicker. Essentially, Davis was eligible to receive a $4 million bonus for being traded and this number would have counted against the salary cap.
“Anthony Davis is waiving his $4M trade kicker, league sources tell ESPN,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
This allows Davis and James to truly recruit another All-Star without fear that the Lakers do not have the cap space to give them a max offer.
The Lakers Could Divide Their Cap Space Among Several Players
With all the maneuvering, the Lakers have made it clear they want to bring in another max player via free agency. Kawhi Leonard and D’Angelo Russell are two of the top players being linked to the Lakers. If the Lakers strike out on landing a marquee free agent, look for L.A. to split up the cap space among a few players.
The Lakers essentially are building an entirely new team around Davis and James. L.A. gutted their roster to be able to trade for Davis and have a chance to sign another All-Star this summer. If they do sign Leonard or another max player, the Lakers will have to fill the majority of their roster with minimum contracts.