Every summer, one of the biggest questions for fans of every NBA team concerns how much salary cap space their team can free up to add players, either in free agency, or in trades. Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are certainly no different, especially given this team’s proven track record of pulling stars out of their hat in the offseason.
As things stand, the salary cap is projected to be approximately $149 million for the summer of 2024. That figure is based on expected 10% increases in the salary cap year over year after the salary cap was set at $136 million for the 2023-24 season. At that number, the Lakers would have approximately $88 million in cap space, though that comes with some huge caveats.
That figure works under the assumption that LeBron James and Anthony Davis both opt out of their current contracts. If either of them chooses not to opt out, agrees to an extension or signs a new contract next summer, that will drastically impact the cap space available. If both players are under contract next season, it will wipe away the entirety of the Lakers cap space and push them right up to the luxury tax line.
That $83 million also includes renouncing rights to Jarred Vanderbilt and Taurean Prince, both of who are set for unrestricted free agency, not extending a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Max Christie and seeing both Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish turn down their player options.
As things stand, here are the players who are guaranteed to be under contract in the summer of 2024, barring a trade, per Spotrac:
- D’Angelo Russell ($19.2 million)
- Rui Hachimura ($17 million)
- Austin Reaves ($13.5 million)
- Gabe Vincent ($11 million)
All four of those players signed new contracts in the summer of 2023, and the latter three will be under contract until at least 2025 as well. For all intents and purposes, those four represent the core of the Lakers moving forward as things stand. Pieces can, and will, be added around them — including the high-profile ones like LeBron and AD, potentially — but when it comes to the salary cap, those four are locked in moving forward.
As previously mentioned, new deals for AD or LeBron would drastically change the trajectory of the offseason. Even as simple as both players picking up their options and returning on their current contracts accounts for $94 million, eating up all that potential cap space.
Similarly, any kind of potential extension with Vanderbilt would also change the cap space. He has been a huge positive for the Lakers given his contract, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they wanted to work out an extension. Depending on how close they are to the luxury tax aprons, that may prohibit their spending.
Christie’s impending free agency could be another potential hurdle for the Lakers. He’ll be a restricted free agent and face the same restrictions as Austin Reaves in the Gilbert Arenas Rule, but that likely won’t come into play as Christie probably won’t be getting a max contract.
The Lakers, then, won’t have quite as many questions as they did heading into last offseason, but those uncertainties will be far more consequential. Retaining LeBron and AD are going to be the big tasks of the summer of 2024, and every other internal decision the Lakers make will be both based on that and largely inconsequential compared to it.
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