There was no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers would try to land at least one max contract player next season, but their recent move allows them to have two.
Of course, they needed to make changes to their organization which started from the top.
By now, we all know what happened there. Jeanie Buss fired her own brother Jim Buss and long-time general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Buss brought a former player and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson in to take over as team president. Then he and Jeanie brought in Kobe Bryant’s former agent Rob Pelinka to be the general manager.
They immediately started making changes to the roster.
Here’s a breakdown of the transactions made in this new era.
Lakers traded Lou Williams and Marcelo Huertas to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer, Tyler Ennis and a late 1st-round pick (28th) in two different trades.
Johnson and Pelinka weren’t done there.
They did the unthinkable.
Traded away the young core.
Lakers traded former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and a 2017 first-round pick (28).
It makes sense for the Lakers to trade Russell as they had their mind set on drafting Lonzo Ball in the 2017 draft.
At the same time, they wanted to ditch the unwanted contracts that were signed under the Buss-Kupchak Era. One of those unwanted contracts was Mozgov’s four-year, 64 million dollar contract for being a bench warmer for half a season.
They drafted Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall, Kyle Kuzma 27th, traded the 28th pick for the 30th and 42nd pick (Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant).
Salary Dump Part 1:
That helped the Lakers free some of the cap space for the upcoming offseason because Lopez’s contract was expiring and he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
Corey Brewer from the Houston trade will also be a free agent and leave more money available for the Lakers.
They also signed free agent guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal, making him a free agent as well.
Salary Dump Part 2:
It’s clear that the Lakers wanted all their focus to be on rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers are very fond of these rookies that they are comfortable enough to trade away more members of their young core, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
Both Clarkson and Nance Jr. were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and the Cavaliers 2018 first-round draft pick.
That trade makes Lakers forward Julius Randle the only player remaining from the 2015-16 season. However, he could be moving on to another team this summer.
The trade also gives the Lakers more cap space after acquiring the expiring contracts of Thomas and Frye.
As it stands now, the Lakers will have cleared up to $56 million in cap space and could possibly resign Randle or Thomas and still get two max contract players.
If they could figure out a way to trade Luol Deng’s unwanted contract, they could have up to $81 million to spend on free agency.
That’s more than enough to sign Paul George and anybody else not named LeBron James.
Free Agents On Lakers Radar:
Let’s face the facts, Cavaliers just rebooted their whole lineup because of the struggle they were having this season, and the front office will continue to give LeBron what he wants, so we’ll count him out.
But George wants to win, and he could be to the Lakers what they have lacked since Kobe Bryant retired; the championship mentality.
Lakers will resign both Isaiah Thomas and Julius Randle, Thomas will have a one-year deal, and Randle will have a four-year contract.
The Lakers will try to go after either DeAndre Jordan or DeMarcus Cousins to complete their void at the center position.
This gives the Lakers some depth and interest pieces that could be played around with. Let’s see what else Johnson and Pelinka have up their sleeves for the Lakers Nation.
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