The Lakers may end up being all about reuniting this upcoming season. After trading for Anthony Davis, the team has five players on guaranteed contracts for next season — with the potential for that number to be three if they get their wish of sending Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga out in the deal as well.
That means they have a lot of roster spots to fill — as many as 11, with the expectation that second round pick Talen Horton-Tucker makes the roster — and not a ton of money to fill them with. L.A. won’t be able to get to a max contract slot, but can get close to $30 million if they move Bonga and Wagner and get Davis to waive his $4 million trade kicker. That’s a good chunk of cash, but when you consider how many players they need, they’ll have to get fairly creative to fill out the roster.
We’ve already heard rumblings that their former draft pick D’Angelo Russell could be a target for them in free agency, as they now have a significant need at point guard, in what would be a rather shocking reunion, but he might not be alone as a familiar face that could join the squad.
Yahoo’s Chris Haynes says a pair of LeBron’s old Cavs teammates could be veteran minimum targets of the Lakers once they are bought out and waived this summer, as is expected. When Kyle Korver was dealt to the Grizzlies in the Mike Conley trade, it was widely assumed he’d eventually find his way to L.A. on the buyout market, as they desperately need shooters and LeBron is very fond of Korver. Haynes also added J.R. Smith’s name as a very real possibility for the Lakers, which, given how the lasting image of LeBron’s final season in Cleveland is him gesturing in befuddlement at J.R. Smith not calling a timeout in Game 1 of the Finals, would be fascinating.
Smith’s contract is non-guaranteed as long as he’s waived in the relatively near future, and Cleveland is desperately trying to find a trade for him, to this point to no avail. Either way, he’ll get waived soon and be available, and LeBron would seemingly welcome him to L.A. with open arms.
After the Davis trade, how the Lakers constructed a roster around their two superstars was a fascinating thought exercise, and after the failed experiment of not adding any shooting around LeBron last summer, it appears they will, quite literally, be pulling from the Cavs playbook this summer and adding the likes of Korver and Smith if possible.