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Lakers have shown interest in Al Horford, but have their sights set on Kawhi Leonard

Al Horford makes a ton of sense for the Lakers, but Kawhi Leonard has to come first, should they open up space for a third max player.

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NBA: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently focused on clearing as much cap space as they possibly can, and for good reason. The NBA is wide open next year and with so many elite free agents coming available this summer, the right signing could lead directly to a championship.

Al Horford sent NBA Twitter into a frenzy Tuesday evening when reports surfaced that he had not actually opted out of last year’s contract to re-sign in Boston but already might have a deal on the table from another team in the ballpark of four years-$100 million. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer offered up some details on who that contract might be coming from and other teams that have shown interest in him, including the Lakers:

“The Mavericks are considered favorites to land Celtics free-agent big man Al Horford, according to league sources, and the two Los Angeles teams are said to also have interest, though they both have their sights set on bigger fish like Kawhi Leonard.”

Leonard is obviously going to be the center of the free agent universe until he makes a decision. With Kevin Durant rupturing his achilles, Leonard is pretty easily the best overall player on the market (if not in the league). It will be interesting to watch how the Lakers balance waiting for him to sign with moving onto other their other options — should they open up the space needed to sign a max free agent.

Horford is interesting in that his passing ability and three-point range do quite a bit to fit perfectly alongside LeBron James and Davis, but I’m not sure it makes a ton of sense to allocate basically the entire cap sheet to the front court.

On top of the allocation of sparse resources, Horford is going to be 33 and, while the next few years will be about maximizing the window you have with James, the Lakers can’t really afford to see any slippage from two of the three top earners (remember, James is 35) on the roster.

Personally, if Leonard is off the table, I’d check in on Kyrie Irving, then Jimmy Butler and maybe Kemba Walker but then move on fairly quickly to spreading cap room around the roster. The concern here obviously is trusting Rob Pelinka to do this given the fiasco of a roster he played a hand in putting together last year, but the Lakers can’t afford to wait around too long while viable signings get taken off the board by the several teams that currently hold cap space.

We’ll see what direction the Lakers go in but before any of this can really be taken seriously, they have to find a way to open up the necessary cap room to pull any such move off.

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