The Los Angeles Lakers are nearly done building their roster for the start of the 2023-24 regular season. They have 14 players on their active roster and appear content to begin the season with the 15th spot remaining open. But things can change quickly in the NBA, as evidenced by the situation surrounding the Indiana Pacers and Buddy Hield.
Hield was dealt to the Pacers from the Sacramento Kings at the 2021-22 trade deadline alongside star point guard Tyrese Haliburton following months of rumors connecting him to the Lakers. When he arrived in Indiana, the rumors didn’t stop, as a deal that would send Hield and Myles Turner to L.A. was in the works for several months before ultimately falling apart.
Hield has remained a member of the Pacers since his trade from Sacramento and is now entering the final year of his four-year, $94 million contract signed with the Kings. But now, there appears to be some disconnect between Hield and the Pacers, and the two sides are reportedly working together on a trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
After contract extension negotiations stalled out, Buddy Hield and the Indiana Pacers have started dialogue to work on finding a potential trade, league sources say.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 20, 2023
This situation is all too familiar for Lakers fans, who have heard about potential Hield trades for over two years. But for the first time since Hield to the Lakers was initially discussed, L.A. will not be at the forefront of discussions, despite general manager Rob Pelinka’s affinity for the sharpshooting guard.
Pelinka likely still has interest, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s trade restrictions make any Hield deal an impossibility for L.A. There are two reasons for this.
Salary Matching and Hard Cap
The first is rules regarding matching salaries in trades for teams above the salary cap. The Lakers are over the cap but under the first apron, meaning they can only receive up to 125% of their outgoing salary in a trade. This means that if they sent out $10 million in a trade, they could only receive $12.5 million back.
With so many new contracts agreed to this offseason, nearly the entire Lakers roster is ineligible to be traded. Taking away LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have only $10.1 million in tradable outgoing salary — Jarred Vanderbilt, Max Christie and Jalen Hood-Schifino — according to Spotrac.
Because of this, they cannot reach Hield’s $18.6 million figure until Dec. 15, when the majority of their roster becomes trade eligible. This includes the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish.
The Lakers are also dealing with a hard cap and sit about $5 million underneath that spending limit. This means that the Lakers cannot afford to take on significant money in any trade as they cannot exceed the hard cap.
If Hield remains on the Pacers in December, it’s possible the Lakers attempt to seek out a trade. But if Hield is going to be traded before the season, it won’t be to the purple and gold.
This also doesn’t factor in that the reason the Pacers are likely to trade Hield is that they have been unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension. So whatever team does trade for Hield will likely be doing so with the intention of extending him, which just isn’t the Lakers at this point in time.
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