Heading into free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers will be armed with LeBron James and Anthony Davis recruiting players with at least $23.7 million in cap space available.
As it currently stands, the Lakers are reportedly ‘confident’ they can still create a max-contract slot heading into June 30 — if there is a commitment from an All-Star player.
While all of the attention is on Kawhi Leonard and rightfully so, the Lakers have surprisingly been linked to their former No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D’Angelo Russell.
With Russell, there is a reason why the Lakers have ‘serious’ interest, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Lakers have serious interest in Nets restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, L.A.’s former No. 2 overall pick and former starting point guard, league sources said. The Lakers’ interest in Russell is real, and has been described as something that the organization has had partly due to their familiarity with Russell. After all, they traded Russell to the Nets in 2017 before drafting Lonzo Ball. Russell has blossomed into an All-Star, a top free agent, and the Lakers would pursue him by utilizing part of the expected $24-28 million in salary cap space. His restricted status will make a potential signing interesting, considering the Nets have the right to match.
As a result, the Lakers hope Kyrie Irving signs with the Brooklyn Nets, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“The Lakers now at this point are rooting for Kyrie Irving to go to Brooklyn because then Brooklyn renounces D’Angelo Russell — who is a restricted free agent. He becomes unrestricted and then the Lakers could sign Russell as their third star in L.A.”
When Russell was traded, there were concerns following the Nick Young incident. In addition, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka wanted to create two max-contract slots.
While it certainly has not been a smooth ride, the Lakers have accomplished their goal of two All-Star players.
With the Lakers potentially signing a third All-Star player like Russell now, general manager Rob Pelinka and company have numerous options. Depending on how much cap space the Lakers have, they could sign 2-3 role players.