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How the Lakers used a CBA quirk to give themselves an advantage in the buyout market

The Lakers signed Gabe Vincent to the mid-level exception but used some shrewd cap management to save spending power for the future.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

When the reports emerged that the Lakers would be signing Gabe Vincent with their mid-level exception, it came as a surprise, primarily because he was not a player the Lakers had been linked to in any real capacity. Lost in the shuffle, though, is a bit of great cap management by the Lakers front office and Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka.

The final details of Vincent’s contract are not yet revealed, but there are some safe assumpts that can be made. At a reported $33 million over three years, assuming a standard contract that grows in salary year over year, Spotrac projects Vincent to make $10,476,190 this upcoming season.

Why is that notable? The mid-level exception for this upcoming season sits at $12,405,000. The Lakers have just a tick under $2 million available still with their mid-level exception. That isn’t going to be enough to sign any sort of notable free agent remaining this offseason. Only Max Christie is making fewer than $1.9 million on the Lakers this year, for reference.

It will more likely be useful, though, in the buyout market. When players hit the buyout market late in the season, a veteran’s minimum contract is prorated to how much time is left in the season.

By saving part of their mid-level exception, the Lakers will have an upper hand in negotiations and can offer more than the prorated veteran’s minimum. Depending on who they would be negotiating against, that could be the difference maker.

The Lakers have signed some impactful players in the buyout market, none more so than Markieff Morris in the team’s title-winning campaign. Andre Drummond was also a notable in-season acquisition that didn’t quite have the same success rate.

Saving the money doesn’t guarantee the Lakers land a notable player on the buyout market, or that one even hits the market. However, it does give the Lakers more flexibility down the line and the potential upper hand in future negotiations.

For a front office that has had its struggles finding wins on the margins like this, some clever maneuvering with Vincent’s contract, which was still more than enough to outbid the Heat, has them in a great position in the future.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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