The Los Angeles Lakers will have the most cap space in the NBA this summer, and will look to use their $68.3 million in room to improve the team immediately. While it was obvious that the team's basketball operations would have a large say in who the team targets over the summer, general manager Mitch Kupchak revealed that new head coach Luke Walton would also have some say on the team's free agent pursuits during a radio appearance on ESPN Los Angeles on Friday morning.
"Luke will have some input [on free agency]," said Kupchak (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation. "But the final say will be [with] ownership and management." This relationship sounds fairly standard, but the information is interesting if only because of the Lakers' rumored interest in a few of Walton's Warriors' players.
Could Walton be part of the reason the team sees Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli as targets in free agency? His familiarity could play a role, but Ezeli is a good fit regardless of Walton knowing him well from his time with the Warriors.
Where Walton could help in this regard is as a recruiter, something the Lakers reportedly have interest in their head coach doing. Ezeli and/or Barnes are unlikely to decide which team they will next play for based off of the head coach in place, but Walton could make the difference in putting the Lakers over the top with either if they are fielding two similar offers. Barnes and Ezeli are both restricted free agents, but the Warriors could be hesitant in matching big contracts for them while they look to pursue Kevin Durant.
All of this is getting a little far ahead with free agency not beginning until July, at which point we will know a lot more about the Lakers' intentions. Kupchak's admission was still interesting, and there are worse things to discuss while we wait for the draft lottery in June.
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