Lakers clear max cap space to pursue third star for Anthony Davis, LeBron James
The Los Angeles Lakers got their max cap space after all.
The Lakers convinced Anthony Davis to waive his $4 million trade bonus in addition to dealing Moe Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, Isaac Bonga and a 2022 second-round pick to the Washington Wizards, according to multiple reports. The move clears $32 million in cap space, enough to sign a max player with up to six years of experience or just shy of the projected $32.7 million max for a player with 7-9 years in the NBA.
That opens the door for the Lakers to extend a max offer sheet to restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell or recruit any of the other top-tier available players not named Kevin Durant, including Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler.
The Lakers could also use the cap space to pursue multiple free agents to fill out a 12-man roster that now features only Davis, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. In that scenario, they would target Danny Green, Terrence Ross and Seth Curry, among others, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks.
The trade with Washington is part of the deal for Davis that already includes the New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons:
Lakers get: Davis.
Pelicans get: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Marcos Louzada Silva, a heavily protected 2020 first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers (via Atlanta), either a top-eight pick from the Lakers in 2021 or their unprotected pick in 2022, first-round pick swap rights with the Lakers in 2023 and an unprotected 2024 first-round pick that can be deferred to 2025.
Hawks get: De’Andre Hunter, Bruno Fernando, Solomon Hill and a future second-round pick from the Pelicans.
76ers get: The Pistons’ 2024 second-round pick and two future second-round picks from the Hawks.
Pistons get: Jordan Bone.
Wizards get: Wagner, Jones, Bonga and the Lakers’ 2022 second-round pick.
Washington also has to send out something by league rules, although that could be cash, the rights to a player who will never see the NBA or a heavily protected second-round pick. The No. 57 pick in this month’s draft, which became Bone, has changed hands three times since the Lakers and Pelicans agreed to the Davis trade two weeks ago. It went from the Pelicans to the Hawks to the 76ers to the Pistons on draft night, all tied to the No. 4 overall pick that went from L.A. to New Orleans.
None of this will be completed until July 6, when the league office opens after a weeklong moratorium on official business. Free agency opens on Sunday at 6 p.m., at which point the NBA will have set the salary cap for the 2019-20 season. The $32.7 million max figure is based on 30 percent of a projected $109 million salary cap, and that number could shift higher or lower come this weekend. For example, the 2017-18 salary cap came in $5 million lower than the league’s projections.
There was some question as to whether the Lakers could get to $32 million in cap space after agreeing to the Davis deal. Separate ESPN reports suggested that Davis did not intend to relinquish his trade bonus and Pelinka did not prioritize cap space in his initial conversations with the Pelicans. The Lakers GM reportedly called New Orleans back after the initial agreement in an attempt to salvage enough room for a third star. New Orleans was open to amending the deal to include another team if Pelinka could find a taker for the last few extraneous players on his roster.
Pelinka found that taker in the Wizards, who landed Wagner — a promising 2018 first-round pick who they reportedly had interest in drafting a year ago — and whose basketball operations are currently being run by an interim general manager.
It’s been a wild couple of weeks, folks, and it’s just getting started.
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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach
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