For years and years, the Lakers prioritized cap space and flexibility heading into the offseason. The star-chasing ways of the front office led to the team turning down various trades that would have sacrificed that coveted cap space.
The team seemed primed to repeat that decision again this offseason as they continued to hang onto Russell Westbrook heading into the offseason. That’s one of the reasons the trade for Rui Hachimura came as a bit of a surprise.
Hachimura is a restricted free agent that the team appears to already have intentions of bringing back. It’ll cut into the cap space they would have had and while the team will still have some space, they won’t be able to get close to enough cap room for a potential max contract if they retain Hachimura.
However, in a bit of a surprise, it sounds like the Lakers might not actually be worried about losing their flexibility this summer. In the latest episode of Please Don’t Aggregate This, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports revealed that the team isn’t concerned about losing potential cap space this summer.
“To me, it’s super interesting that we heard all these lofty ideas of Kyrie in free agency or once we get to the offseason, then the Lakers suddenly have three first round picks to trade. Could they turn around and use that for a Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine or whatever? All those routes are a little more difficult now, a lot more difficult now...Is (Hachimura) worth that type of limited flexibility moving forward, although there are other avenues with sign-and-trades and whatnot and Lakers people I talked to aren’t really concerned about lack of flexibility.
That does fly in the face a bit of the reports that the team wasn’t interested in bringing back long-term contracts. There is a middle ground between losing flexibility and not wanting long-term contracts, but it’s still a different approach than the franchise has taken in the past.
And if that’s the case, it would also open up some more potential trades this season before the deadline if they aren’t as worried about having cap space this summer.
It could be a bit of posturing, and it may not be a thought held by the entire front office. But their first move this season indicated that cap flexibility isn’t priority No. 1 in the offseason, and that alone is a welcome change from years prior.
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