The Lakers were originally going to stretch the salary of Quinn Cook after cutting him to save more money under the hard cap, but they ended up being better off in that respect than expected, and as a result have decided to take the full financial hit this season.
As part of their roster moves, the Los Angeles Lakers reversed course and did not end up stretching Quinn Cook's salary. Because of the JaVale McGee trade and subsequent waiver of Jordan Bell, LA was able to take the full hit for Cook at $1M for the 2020-21 season.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 27, 2020
Original story follows.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka took every measure he could to give the Lakers the most cap room he possibly could this offseason, with some more successful than others. But while the NBA ultimately denied his attempt to get the team out from having Luol Deng’s dead money on the books, there were a couple of shrewd moves he used to allow them to have a bit more wiggle room to spend in free agency.
The Lakers trading JaVale McGee for Jordan Bell and Alfonso McKinnie, and partially guaranteeing the latter two’s salaries before cutting Bell allowed the team to have enough cap space to sign Marc Gasol, and adding him on a two-year deal instead of one allowed them to fit him under the hard cap. Also aiding them in those efforts is how they moved on from Quinn Cook.
The Lakers cut Cook ahead of free agency, and because his $3 million was only partially guaranteed for $1 million, that already gave them a bit of extra space. They also stretched out that dead money to give themselves even more room to breathe, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports:
Per a league source: The Lakers waived and stretched Quinn Cook. That puts him on the books for $333,333 per year for the next three years. Creates a little more flexibility for the Lakers under the hard cap.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 21, 2020
At this point, the Lakers can’t offer anything other than veteran’s minimum contracts anyway, but as a result of the hard cap, they might have been stuck with vet minimums for less experienced players rather than having access to the minimum for more experienced veterans (Larry Coon explains how those contracts work in his invaluable FAQ). I’m not enough of a cap expert to know if this completely gets them there, but this is a smart move regardless to allow the Lakers to maximize their spending power while trying to win a title.
Under the hard cap, every dollar counts, a mantra this front office has lived by while somehow finding multiple ways to upgrade the defending champions in free agency.