Lakers Could Make Run at $147 Million Former No. 1 Pick, Says Insider

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

The Los Angeles Lakers had a quiet offseason but the team could be waiting to make a major move in 2023. The Lakers are projected to have more than $34 million in cap space next summer, per Spotrac, which would potentially give Los Angeles enough money to land another star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Jovan Buha outlined a list of possible free agent targets for next summer. One of the more intriguing names on the list is Warriors All-Star guard Andrew Wiggins.

“As it stands, the Lakers only have James ($46.9 million), Davis ($40.6 million) and rookie Max Christie ($1.7 million) under contract for the 2023-24 campaign,” Amick and Buha wrote on September 16. “(Jones also has a player option worth $2.6 million.) With the salary cap projected to be $134 million, Los Angeles could create upwards of $30 million to $35 million or so in cap space. If their widely known interest in Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving isn’t satisfied via trade by then, Irving could reunite with James the easy way when he’s an unrestricted free agent. Other notable free agents could include Khris Middleton (player option), Fred VanVleet (player option), Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Herro (restricted) and Jordan Poole (restricted).”

The Lakers’ Free Agency Plans in 2023 Complicates a Potential Westbrook Trade

If the Lakers want to get aggressive in free agency next offseason, it will likely limit the team’s potential trade options for Russell Westbrook. The star guard may have a high $47 million salary, but the good news is it comes off the books after the 2022-23 season. Any trade where the Lakers take on contracts that extend beyond this season will eat into the $34 million space the team is expected to have to add potential impact players next summer.

After being selected by the Cavaliers with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Wiggins largely underwhelmed when compared to the lofty expectations that come with being the top pick. The Timberwolves-Warriors trade in 2020 revitalized Wiggins’ career and the star ended up playing a critical role in Golden State winning the NBA title in 2022.

Wiggins posted 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 39.3% from long range during his 73 starts in the 2021-22 season. The Warriors guard’s performance earned Wiggins his first All-Star nomination.

It will be interesting to see what Wiggins’ market will be in free agency. The former No. 1 pick has a $33.6 million salary in 2022-23 in the final season of his five-year, $147.7 million contract.

L.A. Has Been Hesitant to Include 2 Future First-Round Picks in a Trade

There are two key factors the Lakers are considering when debating a potential Westbrook trade. So far, the Lakers have been reluctant to include both of their future first-round picks in an available deal. The other factor is finding a trade that largely includes expiring contracts to keep the 2023 free agency window open. The Lakers have been linked to trade talks with the Pacers throughout the offseason with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner as potential targets.

“The Lakers have two first-round picks eligible to be traded for the remainder of the decade, giving the team’s key power brokers the realization that they must be judicious to make sure the asset pool is utilized for the right trade, the right players, the right package,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jovan Buha detailed on October 3. “Hield has this season ($21.7 million) and 2023-24 ($19.2 million) remaining on his deal, and sources say Hield and the Pacers are open to a trade that makes sense for both sides. The Lakers surely could use Hield’s shooting, durability and veteran savvy, although his defense, handle and current multiyear deal raised questions about the fit.”

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Jeffrey Berdin
Jeffrey Berdin
2 months ago

it seems like last season pre opener.
lakers start loosing this season again.

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