The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t signed a major free agent in years, unless you count Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng (you should not count Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng).
That will all change next summer, at least according to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. After using D’Angelo Russell as a sweetener to convince the Brooklyn Nets to take on Mozgov’s contract, the Lakers project to have over $36 million to spend in free agency next summer, and Johnson expects the team to put that space to good use.
“When you have this much cap space, we’re going to be major players next summer. The tide has turned. People want to play here again,” Johnson told Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “I wouldn’t have made that move if I didn’t think I could use that money.”
Johnson can’t mention players by name due to the NBA’s tampering rules, but the Lakers are reportedly hoping to use that money to sign LeBron James in free agency after completing a trade for Paul George this season.
The Lakers probably need that latter domino to fall to have any kind of shot at the former, but they’ve at least put themselves in a position to do so. It’s time to see if this front office regime can deliver the types of star free agents their predecessors failed to.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.