The Los Angeles Lakers will be sellers before the trade deadline in the hope of creating additional cap space for possible free-agent signings. The Lakers are expected to move Julius Randle, and they are hoping that teams interested in the young forward would be willing to take Luol Deng’s contract.
If the Lakers want to find a taker for Deng’s deal, Hoops Habit’s Gil Alcaraz IV suggested that Los Angeles should reach out to the Dallas Mavericks. Alcaraz predicted that the Mavericks will agree to a trade that will send Randle, Deng, and a 2020 first-round pick to Los Angeles for Nerlens Noel and Josh McRoberts.
Acquiring Deng will hurt Dallas’ cap flexibility in the next two seasons. The veteran forward is just in the second year of his four-year, $72 million contract with the Lakers. He is set to earn $18 million and $18.81 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
The Mavericks are really interested in acquiring Randle. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported that the 23-year-old forward is the “preferred target” of Dallas, and they are planning to focus their efforts on striking a deal with the Lakers for the former Kentucky star.
Alcaraz said that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson might successfully convince Mark Cuban to take Deng’s expensive contract as long as they will add future assets in the deal. In the proposed scenario, Los Angeles will give up their 2020 first-round pick to compensate for Deng’s huge cap hit in the next two seasons.
Johnson and the Lakers have shown willingness to give up future assets if it will help them create more cap room. They gave up promising guard D’Angelo Russell to convince the Brooklyn Nets to take Timofey Mozgov’s four-year, $64 million contract.
The proposed trade will give the Mavericks an “intriguing young piece” and a draft pick that could help them net another top prospect in 2020. The Lakers, on the other hand, will acquire players who they can both let go in the offseason. Noel and McRoberts are playing in the final season of their respective contracts.
The Lakers are creating cap space to sign big-name free agents next summer like Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George. ESPN also reported that the Lakers might decide to continue clearing salaries to prepare for 2019 free agency, where they can sign superstars like Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson, San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler.