When the Los Angeles Lakers traded three young prospects and a wagon full of draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, it initially looked like the team couldn’t make any more big moves. Due to the timing of the trade, which is scheduled to go down on July 6, along with Davis’ $4 million trade kicker, the Lakers were not lined up to have space for a max contract in free agency.
That has changed. Los Angeles managed to clear salary by bringing the Washington Wizards into the deal with New Orleans. The Wizards will receive Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, and Mo Wagner from the Lakers.
Furthermore, Davis has agreed to waive his trade kicker. Add it all up, and the Lakers now have enough money to target a max contract free agent.
The Lakers are trading Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to Wizards as part of the Anthony Davis deal with New Orleans, league sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me. Deal clears contracts and creates more cap space for free agency.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2019
Anthony Davis is waiving his $4M trade kicker, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2019
The Lakers will start free agency with $32M in salary cap space. The Lakers have the ability to sign a max player now.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2019
That is huge for the Lakers, who can suddenly make runs at players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler. It’s worth noting that the $32 million will not cover a max contract for Kevin Durant, due to the fact that Durant has been in the league for more than 10 years, and can be given 35% of the cap.
Even if the Lakers strike out on a max free agent, they still have that much more money to spend on role players to put alongside Davis and James.
Whatever they end up with, this is certainly a big move that puts the Lakers in a great position. However, they have a lot of work to be done, as their roster now consists of only James, Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and their 2019 draft picks.