The Los Angeles Lakers will finally have enough space this summer to add a third free agent at the highest level alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Almost two weeks of confusion and speculation ended on Thursday when ESPN reported that the Washington Wizards had agreed with the carrot of a second-round strike from Los Angeles in 2022 to take over the contracts of Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemorrio Jones and The deal previously agreed between the Lakers and New Orleans pelicans complete a three-team deal. Davis then relinquished his trade kicker and released additional millions of dollars to give the Lakers just over $ 32 million under the salary cap, enough room to chase every free agent in the NBA with a maximum contract savings for Kevin Durant.
The debate over how Los Angeles should use its available spending money has been underway since the announcement of Davis trading earlier this month. At that time, General Manager Rob Pelinka and the company were limited to $ 24 million, leaving them below the starting salary for players who have mastered the maximum and have gained less than seven years of NBA experience. Many league supporters urged the Lakers to use their flexibility to win a third star, while others believed that their best bet was to split the money among several role-players, building a more coherent team for the best tandem in basketball could.
] Now that Los Angeles have been able to sign players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler, sentiment has changed with support for the team that makes up the league's latest Big Three overwhelming majority. In fact, the best free agents at least have a lukewarm interest in signing with the Lakers. It has already been reported that Leonard will hold a meeting while rumors of Irving and Butler's willingness to play in Los Angeles arise.
Even Klay Thompson, who is almost certainly going to sign the Golden State Warriors again, is reported to be meeting with the Lakers record when Joe Lacob and Bob Myers offer him a five-year-long slow motion play. D & # 39; Angelo Russell has allegedly measured the return to the Lakers after Magic Johnson resigned, and Tobias Harris, who is apparently targeting nearly a third of the league, would certainly pick out when Pelinka calls.
In an NBA world before the final, it would be better if Los Angeles added a third superstar. The Warriors would be retuning independently of Durant's decision for another title run, and the possibility of the two-time final MVP teaming up with another full-level free agent and the Nets or Clippers would leave the league with obvious championship favorites. But Durant and Thompson were injured and the crowning finale of the Toronto Raptors increases the likelihood that Leonard will remain at least one more season north of the border. We've heard time and again that devastating injuries to Durant and Thompson leave the Western Conference open, but it's also not the case that the Raptors are above the East.
The Larry O & Brien Trophy is really here for the next season.
It's a simple call when Leonard wants to sign with the Lakers. He is offensively close to James and is ready to give some of the playful performance without completely dominating the ball. With Davis, he would perhaps be the most disruptive defensive duo in league history. There are enough all-time talents among the Big Three to express deep-seat concerns, similar to the Miami Heat earlier this decade and Warriors in the summer of 201
The same is not true for any other free agent who demands the maximum.
Irving's volatility is well documented, and a pairing up with James would be possible. Make sure the Lakers ask Davis to keep the defense to himself. Butler is basically a poor-hearted version of James offensive, without the long-range shooting distracting the body's defenses, and his game will not age well when James' decline eventually accelerates. There is a possibility that Russell's 2018-19 outbreak was a coincidence triggered by unsustainable shots, especially from the floater reach, and that he could not be worth such a salary anyway.
Attacking Harris in front with Davis would be devastating. But he and James are superfluous at the other end, and he's also more of a classic tertiary star than the last piece of a historical triumvirate puzzle piece. Thompson's ACL injury is too big a question mark to waste another year of James' extended flowering, no matter how optimal his presence would be.
Likelihood that Leonard will stay with the Raptors or sign with the Cross-Arena Clippers The Lakers should avoid the temptation to acquire other free agents of the highest order, none of whom would make them title favorites on the field, and they should not quarrel with Davis every year if James is not himself anymore. A much more cautious approach would be to use that $ 32 million in space for starting point coverage, a two-way wing and the best available player on the market for the remaining salary. Signing Darren Collison, Danny Green, and Stanley Johnson on shorter-term contracts would give Frank Vogel much more balance and versatility with his squad and maintain some degree of future teambuilding flexibility around Davis when James returns in 2022 or 2023 could be. Los Angeles could fill the team by using the room exception in a center like Robin Lopez, and then complete ring fencing veterans with minimum contracts to end the summer and the waiver and buyout market for similar players Browse during the regular season.  James and Davis alone have better positioned the Lakers to win a title than ever since the beginning of the decade. If Leonard was not injured, he would undoubtedly knock them over. But if the reigning final MVP decides to continue his career elsewhere, it is best for Los Angeles to maximize the talents of two top five players by surrounding them with a complementary side cast, rather than with another superstar, Overall, the Lakers could do less than the sum of their parts.
The rejection of Butler, Irving and even Harris and Russell would undoubtedly be a difficult pill for Pelinka and Jeanie Buss, especially after so much hand-crafting over Los Angeles's salary limit in the aftermath of Davis's trade. But to reach their goal of winning another championship, the Lakers must be fully prepared for this difficult decision.