One thing the Los Angeles Lakers front office has excelled at over the past couple of years is maximizing their salary cap. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have given the franchise plenty of flexibility.
That led to the team signing LeBron James in free agency this year, but the Lakers are far from done with eyes on the summer of 2019 as well. The likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler could be available.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA is currently projecting its salary cap to be $109 million next season, and $118 million the following year:
Sources: The NBA has informed its teams of updated projected salary cap and tax level for 2019-20 ($109M, $132M) and 2020-21 ($118M, $143M).
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 18, 2018
Following the release of forward Luol Deng, the Lakers have positioned themselves to offer a full max salary to any free agent next summer. As it currently stands, they have nearly $46 million in guaranteed contracts next summer with another $20 million likely to be picked up in team options for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
Assuming the $109 million cap holds true, the Lakers will have around $43 million available. A max contract for a player with 10 or more years of experience, like Durant, would be just around $38.1 million, while the likes of Thompson, Leonard, Butler and Irving could be offered around $32.7 million as players with between seven and nine years of experience.
Needless to say, the Lakers are well-positioned heading into the summer of 2019 to land one of the premier free agents for a second straight season. Johnson and Pelinka have done extremely well to get the Lakers to this point, but they will be looking for more next offseason.