The Los Angeles Lakers made some significant changes at the NBA trade deadline, dealing Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a package including the controversial Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first-round draft pick.
Most analysts believe that the trade was a definite win for the Lakers since they managed to free up almost $50 million in salary cap space by getting the expiring contracts of Thomas and Frye. At the same time, the team also regained a first-rounder in this June’s draft, which is not determined by their win-loss record at the end of the season.
It was well reported that team president Magic Johnson’s plan was to create space for at least two max players this summer. The team could create $69 million of space if the team decides to let go of Randle and stretch Luol Deng’s remaining contract over the next five years, reports ESPN.
Indeed, the Lakers have successfully prepared themselves and are dead set on achieving all their goals in the upcoming offseason. Still, rumors abound that Magic and company are not yet done making moves.
Bleacher Report cited former Cavs general manager David Griffin as saying that the Lakers could potentially buy out Brook Lopez’s contract. The article said that the Lakers were rumored to have tried trading Lopez before the deadline, but his “onerous” $22.6 million salary made any deal quite difficult to pull off.
Lopez, 29, is playing the worst season of his career so far, practically because of the limited playing time he has been getting from head coach Luke Walton. This only indicates that he is not in the Lakers’ long-term plans and so talks of a possible buyout have emerged.
However, Lakers Nation’s Corey Hansford reported that Lopez prefers to finish the season with the Lakers before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. The North Hollywood, California, native is said to be “comfortable” playing for his hometown squad and would not want to get moved “twice in less than a year.”
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 9, 2018
There are rumors that several contending teams are waiting for Lopez to become available in the buyout market. However, according to ESPN, “teams hoping he’d be available after a buyout will be disappointed.”