Most expect the smart play if for the Los Angeles Lakers to wait until next season to be real players in the offseason, but it looks like they could wind up making a big splash in a few weeks.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Lakers can realistically get $30-35 million under the salary cap.
As thing stand today, the Lakers have three fully guaranteed contracts: Kobe Bryant ($23.5 million), Steve Nash ($9.701 million) and Robert Sacre ($915K). Nick Young holds a player option worth $1.227 million, which he is expected to decline. The Lakers have the option to restrict pending free agents Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly and hold a non-guaranteed option on Kendall Marshall worth $915,000. Given the cap hold rules, the Lakers are likely to hang on to Marshall, Bazemore and possibly Kelly, giving them a likely salary cap number in the $37 million range. Dumping Nash with little in return would get them to roughly $27 million in salary commitments plus whatever they take back for Nash.
In a conservative way, the Lakers could get to $30-$35 million in usable cap space if they can offload Nash and the guaranteed salary of the seventh pick.
The Lakers seem motivated to make a deal, the question becomes can they find a willing partner?
If the Lakers could create the much cap space, they could entice two stars to sign in Los Angeles or potentially sign one star like New York Knicks’ forward Camerlo Anthony and a slightly lower-level player like Indiana Pacers’ guard Lance Stephenson, Detroit Pistons’ big man Greg Monroe or Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward Luol Deng and potentially re-sign big man Pau Gasol.