The Los Angeles Lakers, under the guidance of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, have carefully cultivated their salary cap space in order to allow them to pursue superstars in free agency.
It’s taken several painful moves to acquire the space they sought after, but so far the front office’s strategy has paid off. Particularly with the signing of LeBron James this summer.
Alongside James, the Lakers also brought in a veterans Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley on one-year contracts. That will allow Los Angeles to have enough salary cap room to be major players on the free agent market again next summer.
That’s when the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard could be on the market. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Butler already has interest in signing with the Lakers:
Per a source close to Butler, he’s open to the idea of moving on from the Timberwolves to play alongside James in Los Angeles.
Butler, who has a player-option next summer for for $19.8 million, will almost certainly opt out of his contract assuming he stays healthy. A max contract would start at about $33 million and Butler would be a near-lock to receive such an offer as long as he can maintain his production.
Should the Lakers sign Butler, they would be providing James with a second star to play alongside. In the meantime they are hoping youngsters Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart will make major leaps this season and provide James with plenty of firepower.
Of course, there is still a long way to go between now and next summer’s free agency and a lot can happen in that time, but it’s certainly not a bad sign for the Lakers that a player of Butler’s caliber is already interested in wearing purple and gold.