2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

The Lakers’ roster entering the 2019/20 season was top-heavy and had undergone plenty of turnover, leading to speculation that the team would need some time to establish chemistry and start firing on all cylinders. Instead, the Lakers came out of the gates with 24 wins in their first 27 games. They haven’t looked back from there, entering the NBA’s hiatus with a 49-14 record, the best mark in the West by a comfortable margin.

While maximum salaries for LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be pricey going forward, the franchise has a good deal of flexibility to maneuver on the periphery and won’t be averse to going into the tax if need be.

Here’s where things stand for the Lakers financially in 2020/21, as we continue our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Quinn Cook ($2,000,000) 1
  • Devontae Cacok (two-way)
  • Total: $2,000,000

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

Even if we assume Davis opts out to sign a maximum-salary contract and all of the Lakers with player options exercise them, team salary shouldn’t be exorbitant — the five guaranteed salaries, four player options, a max salary for Davis, and the cap hold for the first-round pick would work out to about $123.5MM for 11 roster spots, assuming the cap doesn’t increase.

Of course, if more of those players with options besides Davis require raises for next season, staying out of tax territory will be more challenging. And while it’s plausible that the Lakers will have the full, non-taxpayer mid-level exception available, there may not be enough wiggle room to use the full MLE and bi-annual exception while staying below the tax apron.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $9,258,000 2
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,623,000 2


  1. Cook’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  2. This is a projected value. If the Lakers’ team salary continues to increase, it’s possible they’d be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are based on the salary cap and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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5 thoughts on “2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

  1. JD Candello

    MLE is going to be a HUGE deal next year it looks like for 20+ teams-

    Lakers NEED to secure theirs

    Some mighty fine players will have to settle for it, gonna be an art to signing the one you want quick or waiting to possibly get a deal on a player later-

    I assume Lakers might just offer DHow that, but Id bet he can find some multi year more lucrative offers out there

    2016 sumer still haunts us with Deng and Mozgov (who jettisoned De Angelos bird rights)

  2. rxbrgr

    The cap hold for Kostas confused me a bit, and I’m still unclear on it. He’s technically ending the year on year two of a two-way contract, but only after one year on the Lakers (claimed on waivers). So would his cap hold be the one-year vet minimum or the standard contract amount (like Motley)?

    • Luke Adams

      I had listed him as getting a two-way QO based on a line from Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ (“If the player played two or three years on Two-Way contracts with the same team, the qualifying offer is a standard NBA contract at the minimum salary”).

      But in looking at the actual wording in the CBA, I noticed this line (“assigned” meaning traded or claimed on waivers):

      “With respect to any Two-Way Contract that is assigned, the assignor Team and the assignee Team shall be deemed to be the same Team for the purposes of this Section.”

      So I now think Kostas should be eligible for a minimum-salary, non-two-way QO and have updated this post to reflect that.

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