In their rush to acquire Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers may have handcuffed themselves when it comes to building out the rest of the roster in free agency.
The details are a bit wonky but it comes down to this: Los Angeles may not be able to offer a max deal in free agency depending on the actual day the trade is made official.
According to Los Angeles Times’ Tania Ganguli, the deal is expected to be completed when free agency opens on July 6. This, of course, comes after the June 20 NBA draft in which the Lakers will essentially be drafting whatever player the New Orleans Pelicans ask them to as they’ve promised the No. 4 overall pick as part of the return in the Davis trade.
The rights to that player will officially belong to the Pelicans on July 6. Completing the trade under these terms would leave the Lakers with barely $23 million in cap space. This also assumes that Davis will waive his $4 million trade kicker. Even still, it leaves the Lakers without enough room to offer a max contract to the likes of, say, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker.
This scenario is avoidable but would require a lot more goodwill on the part of the Pelicans than the NBA is used to.
Per Ganguli, the Lakers could sign the No. 4 pick and complete the Davis trade on July 20 at the earliest. League rules stipulate a signed draft pick cannot be traded until 30 days have passed, meaning the Lakers would essentially have to sign whoever they draft mere minutes after he’s done hugging Adam Silver on stage. The Lakers would then have the funds to offer a max deal under the salary cap rules by the time the 30-day buffer is over.
It gets trickier.
The reason why this scenario is unlikely is because the Pelicans may want to trade the fourth overall pick. Whether or not a third team is involved here it seems highly unlikely a franchise wouldn’t want their newest addition to join their team as soon as possible. Summer League, marketing and overall training purposes say there’s no reason to wait and help out the Lakers even more.
The ability to offer a max contract will drastically alter how this offseason is viewed by Los Angeles fans. The Lakers may have won the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. It’s just not clear yet how much they gave up in the process.
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