Following Saturday’s blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Los Angeles Lakers are now set to enter the 2019-20 NBA season with two superstar players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the Lakers don’t appear to be willing to settle for a consolation prize by using their remaining salary cap space on second- or third-tier free agents. Instead, the team is reportedly hoping to trade even more players in order to make room for a top-caliber free agent signing this summer.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Lakers are offering the contracts of three seldom-used youngsters — Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga — to rival NBA teams. As the team is also hoping that Davis would waive his $4.1 million trade kicker, the Lakers could potentially free up slightly more than $9 million in salary cap space if they are able to trade Wagner, Jones, and Bonga, who will be earning about $5 million combined in the 2019-20 season, per Sporting News,
In a follow-up tweet, Wojnarowski added that the Lakers are “aggressively pursuing the purchase” of second-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, which takes place on Thursday. He explained that acquiring such assets would allow the Lakers to inexpensively fill out their roster and, in effect, successfully “exceed the salary cap with those minimum contracts.”
As further noted, trading the three young forwards and getting Davis to waive his trade bonus would also leave the Lakers with $32 million in cap space next month. However, if neither of these conditions is met, Los Angeles would only have about $23 million available to spend on new player acquisitions in the 2019 offseason, as pointed out by the Los Angeles Times.
As the Lakers shipped two wing players (Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart) and their starting point guard (Lonzo Ball) to the Pelicans in the Davis trade, the team is expected to go after max contract players such as Philadelphia 76ers forward/guard Jimmy Butler, or the Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics’ respective superstar point guards, Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving.
According to Sporting News, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors has also been mentioned as a possible target, but most signs point to the star forward turning down a chance to play alongside Davis and LeBron James. Walker, on the other hand, also doesn’t appear likely to move to Los Angeles in free agency, as most recent reports have suggested.
While adding a third superstar to join Davis and James on the Lakers’ starting lineup could drastically improve the team’s fortunes after last year’s disappointing 37-45 campaign, Sporting News warned that Los Angeles’ lack of depth is a pressing concern. As incoming third-year Kyle Kuzma is the only other Lakers player under contract for 2019-20, the Lakers could potentially struggle if James and Davis suffer injuries and miss an extended period of time like they did last season.