Several months after failing to coax the New Orleans Pelicans into a trade, the Los Angeles Lakers struck a deal to acquire Anthony Davis ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft.
It came at a significant cost for the Lakers, as they parted with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the No. 4 in this year’s draft as well as future picks. The Lakers did succeed in retaining Kyle Kuzma, whom the Pelicans reportedly wished to be included in the trade.
With the Davis trade reportedly agreed upon, the Lakers are expected to become more of a factor in free agency. And now that Ball is no longer part of the roster, there is a clear need at point guard.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Lakers are likely to focus on Kemba Walker:
Kemba Walker will be a top target in free agency for the Lakers after they reached an agreement in principle to trade for Anthony Davis, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 15, 2019
Walker is among the players reaching unrestricted free agency this summer, and he’s already expressed a willingness to re-sign with the Charlotte Hornets at a discount. By virtue of being name to the All-NBA Third Team this season, Walker is eligible for a five-year, $221 million supermax contract.
The Lakers presumably will finalize their trade with the Pelicans so that their salary cap space is preserved. Conducted in the proper order, L.A. will retain enough financial flexibility to sign a free agent to a max contract.
If that isn’t used on Walker, the Lakers could elect to use the salary cap space on second-tier players to better fill out their roster depth. Though, with the Davis trade now agreed upon, it may also reignite speculation of Kyrie Irving potentially reuniting with LeBron James.