While the NBA Draft was a whirlwind of activity for the Los Angeles Lakers, so far free agency has been decidedly calm. Intent on preserving cap space for 2018, Los Angeles has been in the hunt for players like Dion Waiters and George Hill, but have yet to get anyone to bite on signing a one-year deal. According to a recent report, they also came close to landing Boston Celtics defensive ace Avery Bradley.
After landing Gordon Hayward in free agency, Boston had to free up some cap space in order to fit a max contract onto their roster, with the likely candidates to be dealt being Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, or Bradley. Ultimately, the Celtics opted to send Bradley to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, the Lakers aggressive suitors for Bradley:
The Boston Celtics are trading guard Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for forward Marcus Morris, league sources told ESPN.
The Bradley deal creates the salary cap space needed to sign free agent forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million maximum contract.
The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers were aggressive suitors for Bradley in the past 24 hours, league sources said.
With a contract that expires after this season, a solid shot from three, and the ability to defend the top guards in the league, Bradly would have been a near-perfect fit for the Lakers. Morris, who the Celtics ultimately settled for from the Pistons, wouldn’t appear to be a difficult offer to beat, but it’s not clear exactly what the Celtics were asking for from the Lakers.
One aspect of this that is important to note is that, in addition to being historic rivals, Boston owns the Lakers 2018 first round pick if it lands between 2-5. With Bradley presumably making the Lakers a stronger team, Boston certainly had to factor in that dealing with Los Angeles could weaken their chances of getting that pick.
While the Lakers haven’t pulled off any free agency moves just yet, it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of trying.