The NBA trade deadline is a month away on Feb. 8, but there’s been little in the way of major chatter or rumors in recent weeks about potential transactions in the association.
Much of that is because a number of teams are still trying to figure out what their standing is as a postseason contender and whether they should be buyers at the deadline, which leaves the sellers without much in the way of trade partners. In any case, Los Angeles will be at the epicenter of trade discussions as the Clippers and Lakers both could look to sell off quality players in hopes of attaining future assets or cap room.
The Clippers have long been rumored to be shopping DeAndre Jordan, but have yet to get much in the way of a bite — Cleveland and Milwaukee supposedly have interest but the asking price right now might be too steep for either to match. The Lakers’ desire to clear cap space for next summer is well known, as Magic Johnson hopes to land a pair of big names in free agency. Luol Deng’s albatross of a contract appears unmovable, so now the Lakers are moving on to trying to find homes for some of their younger players in hopes of finding cap relief.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers have made a trio of young players available on the trade market, two of which come as little surprise.
The Los Angeles Lakers, needing to shed salary for summer free agency, had been hopeful of waiting until the end of the season to move Jordan Clarkson — owed $26 million beyond this season — but there’s a mutual desire to find something sooner than later. The Lakers have made it clear that Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance are available.
While not surprising, it does offer some idea about what L.A.’s plan is moving forward. Randle has long been assumed to be on the block, not due to his contract but because of tensions between the two sides about his role. However, moving Randle alone doesn’t clear much cap space as it just removes his qualifying offer number (~$5.3 million). Nance Jr. makes even less at $2.2 million next season, but Clarkson is assuredly the one they’ll push hardest to move because of his contract, with Randle or Nance possibly acting as sweetener.
Clarkson makes $12.5 million next season and over $13 million in 2019-20, which means moving him would clear a fairly significant amount of cap space, provided they can get expiring contracts in return. The Lakers will have to find teams willing to take on that long-term money for a score-first point guard and while his contract isn’t outlandish, it’s also not cheap either. Clearing cap space is always a good idea in theory, but much more difficult to execute than is usually thought.