After trading Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram Josh Hart, and several draft picks for Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are set to contend for an NBA championship next season in a wide open Western Conference. Davis and LeBron James alone catapult a Laker team from missing the playoffs this season to a title contender. But, with potential cap space to sign one of the premier free agents this summer, the Lakers have a real chance to become title favorites. If Davis waives his trade kicker of 4.1 million dollars the Lakers could have over 27 million dollars in cap space. While this is short of the 32.7 million that is the standard starting salary max for this summer, it is enough to potentially land LA its third star. Here are a few scenarios the Lakers should consider depending on their cap situation:
If the Laker’s have $27.1M in cap space…
Primary Target: Kemba Walker
Kemba is the ideal target for LA. He’s a premier scorer and an above-average play-maker that figures to fit seamlessly into a team with LeBron and Davis. He’s an above average three-point shooter, and although coming off a down year, would figure to post some of the best shooting numbers of his career alongside two first-team All-NBA caliber players. He’s also been a durable player his entire career which should not be undervalued considering Davis’ and James’ injury-plagued 2018-2019 campaigns. Walker is also probably more likely than other top free agent guards of this class to take a pay cut.
Secondary Target: Kyrie Irving
In recent weeks it has been widely reported that Irving has been a near lock to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. However, this weekend it was also reported by David Aldridge that Kyrie has been wanting to play with David “for years” and the two have talked about potentially teaming up. Whether Kyrie wants to sacrifice$5M and go back to being a secondary scorer makes this somewhat unlikely, but Kyrie would provide elite guard play and three-point shooting that this Laker’s current construct desperately calls for.
Additional targets to consider: Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris
Should LA strike out on the two top point guards on the market they should aim to take one of Philly’s playmaking wings from them. The two forwards are different types of players, but both figure to fit in well with Davis and James. Harris provides more shooting (39.7%, 5.0 attempts per game) and is a solid rebounder. Butler would provide great on-ball defense and fit very nicely as a secondary playmaker, but it is questionable whether or not he’d sacrifice a max deal to play in LA.
If LA has just $23.6M in cap space…
LA should try to target a combination of second-tier free agents. In this case, they should highly prioritize three-point shooting veterans. JJ Redick would make a lot of sense to add to this team and would likely come relatively cheap and would allow the Lakers to add another established veteran like Danny Green. If they were able to convince a player of their caliber to take a pay cut, they could also make a run at Seth Curry. In this scenario, LA could shell out $10M to Redick, $6M to Green, $4M to Curry and fill out the rest of the roster with trusted vets who would be willing to take the minimum for the chance to compete for a championship.