The saga is over! A short time ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the news that the Los Angeles Lakers have agreed a deal to acquire superstar Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks are reportedly included in the deal. One of those future first-round picks is this year’s #4 pick.
Whilst it may make Laker fans’ eyes water, the price paid to acquire Davis does not come as a surprise. The purple and gold look to have stayed firm on not including Kuzma in the deal, but a collection of future first-round picks are now New Orleans-bound.
From a salary perspective, the deal works. Lonzo Ball ($8.7 million), Brandon Ingram ($7.2 million), Josh Hart ($1.9 million), and the 2019 #4 pick (circa $7 million) all but cover Davis’ contract ($27 million). According to our brief calculations, the Lakers will be slightly off maintaining a mid-tier maximum salary slot for the upcoming free agency period.
However, Moritz Wagner ($2 million) and Isaac Bonga’s ($1.4 million) contracts can be shipped out to free up salary which can open up that maximum salary slot. This looks like the most likely scenario, which will certainly make free agency an interesting one as top talent will now be looking to link up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
The deal does work for both parties. The Lakers have acquired arguably a top-5 player in the NBA as they look to win now, and the Pelicans have received a host of promising young players along with a wealth of draft picks, in an attempt to rebuild post-Anthony Davis.
Don’t relax just yet though, we’re just getting started. Let the free agency rumours commence!
UPDATE 16/06: Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has provided some expert insight into the Lakers’ salary moving forward, along with an excellent podcast from Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation and Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports. The full details of the flexibility is unknown, but it appears that the timing of the deal being officially announced has a huge role to play.
Both teams will have to wait until July 6 to announce the trade, which means that the Lakers will pick on behalf of the Pelicans at Thursday’s NBA Draft. Anthony Davis does possess a 15% trade bonus of circa $4.1 million that will come off the Lakers’ books, if exercised.
Of course, Davis can waive his bonus to allow the purple and gold to acquire more talent alongside himself and LeBron James. If so, the Lakers will have an estimated $32.5 million in cap space moving forward.
Although, the above scenario does sit slightly short of the $32.7 million maximum that players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker, are expected to receive. As mentioned above, Wagner and Bonga can be moved to bump the salary available up, or the likes of Leonard, Irving, Butler, and Walker can accept a pay cut.
In addition, just to make things more puzzling, for the salary of this year’s #4 pick ($7.1 million) to be included in the trade, the Lakers will need to sign the player drafted, on July 1. From here, the deal would have to wait 30 days until it can be officially announced.
If the option is not taken to wait 30 days, the Lakers’ cap space drops to $27.7 million. Should Davis then choose to take his trade bonus, the space would shrink further to $23.6 million. Way off the maximum salary slot desired.
The 30 day wait would be the best situation, as it maintains available salary. Also, Davis can accept his trade bonus at that point without impacting the spending power of the Lakers. Leaving $32.5 million in available cap space, which opens up a path to sign a third star to the roster.
The question is now, do the Lakers star chase or do they use the salary to build a deep roster?
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)