The Lakers have aligned themselves to be able to make a run at some kind of superstar next offseason. This sentence has become evergreen. According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the front office has done some maneuvering to open up as much cap space as possible for the summer of 2017, when that Russell Westbrook guy (and others) can be acquired via free agency.
While that was interesting and a great bit of cap management to be able to add to an already promising young roster next summer, Pincus threw in a little piece of interesting information regarding potential current plans. They do still have enough cap room to take in salary in a potential deal, which is important as so few of the Lakers' contracts are large enough to match that of an impact player the Lakers would hope to acquire.
Here's what Pincus had to say about such a potential move:
The team has held off on signing Tarik Black, Marcelo Huertas and second-overall pick Brandon Ingram, keeping an eye on what could be $13.6 million in cap room (assuming the team also waives and stretched Nick Young).
The Lakers do have an unnamed trade target in mind, but are also preserving space for another opportunistic Calderon-like deal.
The unnamed trade target could be literally anyone, but this feels like the standard for the Lakers, who are among the most tight-lipped teams in the NBA, if not all American professional sport. As ambiguous as the report may seem, it's hard to expect much more from the Lakers at any stage of a deal other than "right before we file it with the league".
The type of deal Pincus mentions is worth noting, however. Based on what Pincus says, this isn't likely to be the kind of deal that would affect their wins total for this season. Instead, the Lakers appear to be looking to use their cap space to take in salary a team is looking to dump alongside an asset to further Los Angeles' rebuild. Think the Jeremy Lin deal, which included a first rounder the Lakers used to take Larry Nance, Jr. That's worked out pretty well so far.
So, before you jump on the trade machine to find an impact player in the $13 million range, look instead at guys in the final year of their deal on teams that would benefit from dumping that salary.
This is all speculation on my part, so take that with a grain of salt, but that appears to be what the Lakers are looking to do.
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