Although the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans have both agreed to the trade that would send Anthony Davis to Los Angeles and several promising youngsters and future draft picks to New Orleans, the deal has yet to officially go through. However, the latest from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggests that the date when the Davis trade becomes official could play a large part in the amount of salary cap space the Lakers will have available to sign a top-tier free agent.
Citing a tweet that Wojnarowski shared on Sunday, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that there’s a good chance the Davis trade will be consummated on July 6, adding that there’s a major caveat that could come into play as the Lakers go after free agents this summer. According to the ESPN NBA insider, Davis’ 15 percent trade bonus — valued at $4 million — will likely kick in when the trade gets formalized. This kicker could be waived in order to free up cap space for the Lakers, but Wojnarowski cautioned that the chances of that happening are currently slim.
Given that the Lakers were estimated on Saturday to have $27 million to $32 million in cap space remaining once Anthony Davis officially becomes a member of the team, the All-Star big man’s trade kicker would reduce the team’s cap space to a shade over $23 million, NBC Sports Bay Area added.
In addition to Davis’ trade bonus potentially compromising the Lakers’ cap space, there’s also the matter of the team’s No. 4 overall draft pick in this week’s NBA Draft counting toward their cap if the trade is finalized on July 6. According to Wojnarowski, it’s possible that the Lakers and Pelicans would wait until July 30 before consummating the trade — hence ensuring the No. 4 pick is not on Los Angeles’ books — but still more likely that both teams would make the deal official on July 6.
“If Pelicans and Lakers waited until July 30 to complete [the] trade, Lakers could’ve had $32.5M in cap space — enough to pursue a max level free agent,” Wojnarowski explained in a second tweet.
“By waiting 30 days, Lakers would be acting like a team over the cap and thus allowed to use 4th overall pick in draft as salary.”
According to Silver Screen and Roll, various reports have hinted at different top-tier free agent targets for the Lakers, including Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Philadelphia 76ers wingman Jimmy Butler, and Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has also been mentioned as another superstar the Lakers could chase in the aftermath of the Davis acquisition.
As the Los Angeles Lakers gave up forward Brandon Ingram and guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to New Orleans — along with this year’s No. 4 pick and two future first-rounders — the team might not have much of a supporting cast to complement Davis, LeBron James, and incoming third-year forward Kyle Kuzma if they miss out on any of the aforementioned free agent stars, among others. This, as NBC Sports Bay Area speculated, could be “welcome news” for the Lakers’ Pacific Division rivals, considering how Davis’ prospective arrival in Los Angeles instantly makes the 2019-20 Lakers a better team than the one that finished with a 37-45 record in the 2018-19 season.