Posted 2 months ago
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to reload for a run at the NBA title. After suffering an early playoff exit to the Suns they have to realize they need more weapons. There are multiple ways their offseason can go with the safest bet being they re-sign most of their free agents and make some trades on the margins. Re-signing most of their rotation players could cost the 2021-22 Lakers between $275-$300 million in combined payroll and luxury tax payments.
For the Lakers to gain the needed weapons they probably will need to make some major trades, likely through creative sign and trade deals. A sign and trade will allow the Lakers to get a key veteran free agent. Players such as Lonzo Ball and Spencer Dinwiddle have been mentioned as options to help at point guard, a position of high need. And sorry Lakers fans players such as Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, and DeMar DeRozan will likely be too costly when factoring in the rest of the roster. Just to create enough space below the hard cap to acquire a new starting guard via sign-and-trade would likely require not re-signing most of their free agents. They may also have to salary dump Montrezl Harrell if he opts in, and one of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma was given a three-year, $40 million extension and his $13 million salary in 2021-22 could be used in a sign-and-trade. For example, the Lakers could trade Kuzma straight up for Dinwiddie at a starting salary no higher than $18 million.
If the Lakers wish to get their playmaker without dealing with hard cap limitations, their best bet is to trade for one under contract. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the Lakers are pursuing veteran point guard options such as Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. He adds that a potential framework could include Dennis Schroeder, Kuzma, and Horton-Tucker for Westbrook. Sign-and-trading free agents to another team won't trigger a hard cap for the Lakers. Also, there aren't any restrictions to how many free agents a team can include in a single sign-and-trade. Both Schroeder and Horton-Tucker can be included to help match salaries. The one thing that could complicate the deal is Base Year Compensation (BYC) which will limit the outgoing salaries of Schroeder and Horton-Tucker. For example, if Schroeder were to get a contract with a starting salary higher than $18.6 million, his outgoing salary will be $15.5 million, his 2020-21 salary. Also, if Horton-Tucker were to get a starting salary at his Early Bird maximum at around $10 million, his outgoing salary would be 50 percent of that amount, or $5 million. The Lakers need to come up with $35.3 million in outgoing salaries to match for Westbrook. Combining Kuzma's $13 million with the hypothetical outgoing salaries of Schroeder's $15.5 million and Horton-Tucker's $5 million, would match salaries for Westbrook. Alternatively, if Harrell opts in, the Lakers could substitute his $9.7 million salary for Horton-Tucker. Afterward, the Lakers will have no restrictions in regards to re-signing their other free agents, but their expenses could still reach the $275-300 million range.
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