With the Los Angeles Lakers poised to have two superstars heading into next season after ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported they will acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, filling out the roster becomes the next order of business.
In the deal, Los Angeles is expected to send Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and three first-round draft picks to New Orleans. That leaves Davis, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Moritz Wagner, Jermerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga as the only Lakers players under contract in 2019-20.
On SportsCenter Sunday morning, Wojnarowski added another wrinkle to the deal, which is expected to be made official on July 6, that impacts how much cap space Los Angeles will have to sign free agents this summer (1:01 mark of the video below):
Wojnarowski added Davis isn’t expected to waive his $4 million trade kicker, leaving the Lakers with $23.7 million in cap space to work with.
Assuming this happens, the Lakers will be unable to sign a free agent to a full max salary on the open market, though any of those players can sign with the Lakers for a lower price.
The one marquee name linked to Los Angeles in the wake of the deal and with its potential cap situation is Kemba Walker. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Walker will be the team’s top target.
Walker is eligible to receive a supermax extension from the Charlotte Hornets worth $221 million over five years. For comparison, the most he could receive from any other team-including the Lakers-is $140 million over four years.
Another potential idea for the Lakers would be to pursue multiple high-quality second- and third-tier free agents to fill out their roster.
The Golden State Warriors struggled in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors with Kevin Durant out, in part, because they were so top-heavy and lost a lot of depth over the years.
The Lakers aren’t exactly in a position to wait and see what happens right now. James is entering his 17th season, will turn 35 in December and had the first significant injury of his career last year. They have to strike immediately to maximize their title window with him.
Making the Davis deal official is the first step for owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka. But there is still work to be done with the money the Lakers have remaining to build a championship roster around Davis and James.