The opportunity to trade for Kawhi Leonard this summer is off the table for the Los Angeles Lakers as it came to a surprise change earlier this week after Leonard was handed over to the Toronto Raptors.
What about the Lakers? Hopes to supplement a second star player, the newly signed LeBron James?
Lakers Close 2018-19 Roster Close
When the Lakers signed contracts for JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson last week, they have exhausted their cap area, the only $ 4.49 million space-level exception being LA to allow to add a free agent that makes more than the minimum salary. At this time, it seems that the Lakers could leave the room unused.
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It remains to be seen if the group of Lakers' free agents on year-old offerings, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Rajon Rondo, alongside McGee and Stephenson, can add to the vision of the Front Office to use playmaker and defender in LeBron. The team's focus on adding perimeter depth will certainly provide Luke Walton with interesting lineup options.
With McGee, the only experienced center on the list, which also includes Morgan Wagner and holdover reserve Ivica Zubac, Walton should have plenty of opportunities to try smaller, faster lineups with James in the middle. A manager from Lakers told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report that the coaching team is "eager for it", as he calls their version of the "Death Lineup" of the Golden State Warriors, flanked by LeBron in the middle of the Lakers' last Draft Picks – Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart at Guard and Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma at Forward.
The success or failure of such units could determine how much the Lakers prioritize by adding a traditional center to their core. In the short term, the list of Lakers is so flawed that they probably will not challenge the Warriors and Houston Rockets for supremacy in the Western Conference. Given the depth of the conference, the Lakers are not even a playoff spot, though it would likely take a lengthy absence of James for the Lakers to land in the lottery.
All that the Lakers have done since James signed, however, suggests that they think more about what they can do in 2019-20 and beyond, rather than trying to squeeze every possible profit out of this season. Hence, one-year contracts for veterans to maintain the team's cap area and multi-year unseasoned seasonal businesses for the second round Isaac Bonga and Svi Mykhailiuk, potential role-players for future Lakers teams.
Where the Lakers Stand for the Summer of 2019
Depending on where the cap comes in and where the first round falls, the Lakers plan to have $ 24 million somewhere in the neighborhood in the cap place next summer. Remember that the sum still contains Luol Deng . In one of the summer's most surprising developments, the Lakers retained Deng rather than stretched him because they could not persuade any other Max Free agent (eg, Paul George) to join James in LA
If the Lakers stretch Deng next summer Das Salary will only be in the books for two instead of three years and at a slightly lower amount ($ 6.2 million). The extension of Deng would project the Lakers at $ 36 million, more than enough to sign a player with seven to nine years experience to a maximum contract.
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Since Deng will only have one more season of salary, it is possible that the Lakers will be able to completely eliminate him from the trade without giving up several first-round picks. For example, if the Lakers could convince a team to take over Deng on their first-ever roll-out in 2019, they would make a $ 43 million contribution.
With this kind of money could be the Lakers Leonard or another free agent with 7-9 years of experience, a group that includes Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker. Then they would still have about $ 11 million for the planned capital ceiling, maybe enough to convince either Caldwell-Pope or Rondo to sign another one-year contract. At that time, the Lakers would be able to sign them in the summer of 2020 for more money on a long-term agreement using bird rights. (Trading Deng would also make the Lakers make a maximum offer to a player with more than 10 years of experience, with Kevin Durant as a possible target.)
Ideally, the Lakers would then develop either ball or Ingram's third star, which was a necessary part of the formula in recent years. The Lakers' latest designs are likely to become solid RPGs in Hart (2018 Las Vegas Summer League MVP) and Kuzma (All-rookie first division).
Could the Lakers still take care of Kawhi?
Assuming that Leonard reports and tests in Toronto, it is still conceivable that the Lakers could take him over the bargain this season. After all, a hurdle – the San Antonio Spurs & # 39; reported that he was not ready to negotiate Leonard with a rival of the Western Conference in general and the Lakers in particular – is now no longer an obstacle. Nevertheless, a second Leonard trade remains a long shot. Of course, the Raptors have traded for Leonard to try to win with him at this season.
So it is realistic for Toronto to turn Leonard over only if the team performs worse and Kawhi stays healthy enough to make a contribution this year. Otherwise, there's little point in the Lakers or anyone else offering much for him, as the only benefit he offers is the ability to raise Leonard 8 percent if he re-signs, rather than the 5 percent increases, he can sign up with a new one
If such an opportunity somehow ensues, the Lakers would have to weigh the benefits of Leonard this season and increase their chances of recapturing him against the expense of giving up young talents and draft picks in a deal to sign. If the Lakers are sure that they can sign up to Leonard as a free agent and do not think they can compete with the Warriors this year, they are best waiting to bet on Leonard next summer, without betraying their return.