Everyone already knows that the Los Angeles Lakers have big dreams for free agency this summer. The team already has LeBron James on the roster, but with max cap room and players like Kevin Durant hitting the market, it’s already easy to tell that NBA free agency rumors are going to kick up to another level this July.
But let’s allow for a world where the Lakers have inked Durant, even if that doesn’t seem like it’s a shoe-in just yet. What if they didn’t stop there? What if they tried to build the greatest Big Three ever put together?
According to former NBA player and (maybe) NBA Insider Jarrett Jack, that’s exactly what the Lakers are going to do:
Man if y’all thought the league was in trouble before they bout to mess around and have AD KD and Bron all on the same team ♂️— JARRETT JACK (@Jarrettjack03) November 15, 2018
Okay, he’s kidding, right?
In 8 months quote me— JARRETT JACK (@Jarrettjack03) November 15, 2018
Okay, so it does not appear Jack is kidding. I know, I know. You have questions. Let’s take them one by one.
Does Jack’s “report” mean this is for sure happening?
Haha, just kidding, no, it does not mean that at all. It’s not like he’s citing FOUR entertainment industry sources in a REPORT that says LeBron “is” going to the Lakers, after all.
Does Jack’s “report” not mean anything then?
No, it doesn’t necessarily mean nothing. The NBA is a weird enough place that “Jarrett Jack predicts next superteam eight months in advance” isn’t even the craziest headline we’ve had in the last few years.
Plus, while Jack may be retired, he’s still in the NBA fraternity. These guys hear info reporters just aren’t always privy too.
That noted, it’s still possible Jack is just kinda baselessly rumormongering.
Okay, so let’s assume for a second Jack isn’t full of it. Is this even possible, cap-wise?
Probably not, and unless I’m missing something, definitely not in eight months. At least not all of it. It would take a little over a year for the Lakers to pull off everything, if it’s even possible.
The Lakers can sign Durant to a full or nearly full max contract this summer that would start at just over $38 million a year as things stand now (money would be tight, and Durant would maybe have to take a smidge less than the full max).
Durant’s deal would then use up all of their cap space, meaning they would have to round out the roster around Durant, James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moe Wagner, Svi Mykhailiuk and Isaac Bonga with mostly veteran’s minimum, one-year type players.
The problem is, with the Lakers at the cap, they could only take on a maximum of 125 percent in incoming salary — meaning the salary they’re bringing in would have to almost match the salary they’re sending out.
As you can see in the screen grab below — even while accounting for slight raises for the Lakers’ youngsters and Davis — this isn’t easy:
So that could possibly work in raw math even next year if throwing in a few of whatever veterans the Lakers sign this summer, but a trade that massively unbalanced in terms of ingoing-outgoing players isn’t really feasible because New Orleans probably a) would not want to give away their best player ever, b) would not want to cut basically half of their roster while still paying their salaries to do it and c) wouldn’t want to send Anthony F**king Davis to go play with LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
It’s possible with the vets the Lakers add over the summer becoming tradeable around Dec. 15, 2019 that this could work, there are just probably WAY too many moving parts to make it realistic barring something I’m missing.
Would the math be different if the Lakers traded for Davis before the trade deadline this season? Doing so would mean Durant would just have to take significantly less than his max to sign this summer, and it would also mean New Orleans would have to agree to trade Davis by February, without Davis agitating for them to do so publicly (at least not yet). So yeah, that’s probably not realistic either.
But what if Davis does demand a trade to the Lakers? Haven’t you heard he and LeBron James share the same agent?
Drama in Golden State and Davis’ representation aside, it just seems extremely unlikely by any practical measure that even if Davis, James and Durant did want to team up AND Davis got New Orleans to trade him that the Lakers could even make it work, at least not within the next eight months.
And any time a scenario is only really possible if a team does a seven-for-one player trade and you also have a superstar needing to take well under the max while the other demands a trade to a specific destination — and then sees that request granted — said scenario can probably only happen in 2K. And maybe not even then.
The most realistic route to this may be to wait until 2020, with Davis opting into the final year of his deal and the Lakers trading a newly extended Ingram and other pieces for a (presumably trade-demanding) Davis. But that’s not within the next eight months. So we probably can’t book this just yet.
Sorry to rain on your parade, those of you who thought Jarrett Jack was the new Woj. It just doesn’t look like this can happen. The Lakers very well might team one of Durant or Davis with James yet. Just probably not both. At least not anytime soon. And if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear from you what scenario you’ve cooked up to make this work, because after several hours of using my limited mathematical brainpower to try and figure this out, I can’t see many (any?) avenues.
You can follow and/or yell at Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.