The Lakers just pulled off a blockbuster trade and acquired a superstar in Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a handful of NBA Draft picks to New Orleans. The deal technically was months in the making, considering Los Angles had already tried to trade for the 26-year-old before last season’s deadline, and it’s a move the Lakers arguably needed to make in order to maximize the impact of LeBron James’ presence.
And … now comes the tricky part.
ANTHONY DAVIS TRADE GRADES:
Lakers begin title chase; Pelicans exploit LA’s desperation
You might have heard the Lakers still need to add players – many players – in 2019 NBA free agency. You also might have heard that the Lakers’ salary-cap space for NBA free agency will be impacted based on the timing of the official completion of the Davis trade. But you might not understand why. That’s where we come in to explain a complicated scenario in – we hope – as simple terms as possible.
Here is the bottom line: If the trade is completed July 6 (the first day possible), the Lakers will have either $23.7 million of $27.8 million in cap space for free agency, depending on whether Davis accepts a $4 million bonus (which he will). If the completion of the trade is delayed until July 30, the Lakers will have roughly $32.5 million in cap space for free agency.
Here we explain why that’s the case under each scenario.
Lakers salary cap if Anthony Davis trade date is July 6
The Lakers, operating under the salary cap, will have $23.7 million in cap space if Davis accepts his $4 million trade bonus as expected. If Davis waives that bonus for some reason, the Lakers will have roughly $27.8 million in salary cap space.The Lakers don’t need to match salaries with the Pelicans in the Davis trade, because LA is far enough under the salary cap to absorb Davis’ salary. (Ball, Ingram and Hart will make a combined $17.9 million this season – not enough to match Davis’ $27.1 million.)The player of the Pelicans’ choosing that the Lakers will draft at No. 4 overall will not be signed by LA. When the Davis trade is completed July 6, the Lakers will simply trade the rights to that player to the Pelicans.
Why July 6? NBA free agency begins June 30 at 6 p.m. ET, but deals can’t be officially signed until July 6, when the league’s moratorium on transactions lifts. Likewise, trades that have been agreed upon can’t be processed and completed until July 6.
This is the most likely scenario, because the Pelicans have little if any reason to let the Lakers push back the completion of the trade.
Under this scenario, the Lakers don’t have enough salary-cap space to sign a player to a max contract. Unless somebody inexplicably agrees to sign in LA for less than the max, this eliminates the possibility of Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard becoming the Lakers’ third star.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Lakers are preparing for this scenario. While they are still in the hunt for max players, Lowe reports they “also have begun discussing players expected to fetch somewhere in that $10 million-plus range.” That would put the Lakers in the market for somebody like JJ Redick or Danny Green, who could play vital shooting roles to complement the games of James and Davis.
However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks report the Lakers are “scrambling to reshape the parameters” of the Davis trade so they can have more cap space July. 6, acting as though they still want to sign a third max player.
LAKERS FREE AGENT TARGETS:
What are LA’s next moves following Davis trade?
Lakers salary cap if Anthony Davis trade date is July 30
The Lakers will maintain their current level of cap space, which is $32.5 million, as they enter free agency.If the Lakers sign a max free agent with their $30 million-plus in salary-cap space, they will need to match salaries with the Pelicans in the Davis trade, because LA will be operating as a team over the salary cap.On July 1, after their signing of the max player, the Lakers will sign the player they drafted at No. 4 overall for roughly $5 million so they can use his salary for matching purposes in the Davis trade.
Why July 30? Per NBA rules, first-round draft picks can’t be traded until 30 days after signing their contracts.
This is the best-case scenario for the Lakers if they want to sign a third max player. Of course, one could argue they should be fine settling with the first scenario, because it would make for a deeper, less top-heavy roster – not unlike the one the Raptors just used to make a playoff run and beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Also, under this scenario, Davis will not need to waive his $4 million trade bonus. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade “would work by $66,000.”
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