As free agency nears, the Lakers may avoid signing players to contracts that extend past 2017/18 for fear of eating into potential Paul George cap space, Justin J. Page of ESPN writes. The club is currently expected to have $18MM to work with this summer and potentially over $40MM next summer, depending on the status of Julius Randle.
Considering that the key here would be to retain flexibility to make a move for George when he officially hits free agency in 2018, the Lakers could zero in on players with one-year deals when the 2017 free agency period begins next week. Los Angeles could justifiably overpay for players in 2017/18 so long as they come with team options for anything beyond that.
Page also writes that fans can expect the franchise to continue shedding as much salary as possible, the primary target being Luol Deng and the $54MM remaining over the course of the last three years of his deal.
There’s more out of the Pacific Division:
- The Clippers ended up agreeing to pay $2MM for the Bucks draft pick that turned into Sindarius Thornwell at No. 48, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
- Shortly after trading the No. 2 pick of the 2015 draft, Magic Johnson called to question D’Angelo Russell‘s leadership abilities. Per Baxter Holmes of ESPN, when Johnson introduced rookie Lonzo Ball at the Lakers’ practice facility, he implied that the team needed a leader and somebody that other players want to play with.
- After finding a seemingly impeccable fit with the Warriors, JaVale McGee is eager to remain in the Bay Area, Scott Reiss of KTVU tweets.
- As speculation mounts that LeBron James could be targeting a move to Los Angeles next summer, the battle between the Lakers and Clippers gains momentum. Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Daily News points out that the potential pursuit of James may see L.A. legends Magic Johnson and Jerry West squaring off.