Lakers Rumors: Breaking Down Remaining Plans for 2018 Offseason

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 5, 2018

Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, Earvin
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the busiest teams on the free-agent market.

LeBron James' decision to call Staples Center home started the wave of signings, and now the Lakers have a squad chock full of veterans. 

However, the Lakers' offseason business is far from over, as a trade for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard remains a possibility. 

A deal for Leonard would complete what must be seen as a successful offseason for the Lakers, who should work their way back into the playoffs next season. 

Below is a look at what the Lakers need to accomplish for the rest of the offseason and how it shapes their roster for the 2018-19 campaign. 


Trade for Kawhi Leonard

With little space left to sign free agents, the majority of the Lakers' focus is set on acquiring Leonard. 

The Lakers and Spurs have talked about a potential deal, but the asking price is significantly high at the moment. 

San Antonio is asking for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two first-round picks and two draft pick swaps in return for Leonard, per salary cap expert Larry Coon during an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet: 

Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN

NBA salary cap expert @LarryCoon was on tonight's show to break down the #Lakers' cap space flexibility following today's moves. https://t.co/GTB1fYdQrk

"From what I hear, they're asking a lot. My sources are saying, get ready for this one, they're saying Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first (round picks) and two pick swaps. They're just saying give us everything," Coon said. 

You can't get upset at the Spurs for setting the bar so high since Leonard is one of the top players in the NBA, but asking for three players and a collection of draft picks seems a bit too much. 

If the Lakers were to move two of the three players mentioned above in a deal for Leonard, it would hurt their depth and put more pressure on Lonzo Ball to become a consistent contributor on offense alongside James and Leonard. 

The Lakers should try to find a way to trade either Ingram or Kuzma alongside Hart in order to keep as much young talent around James as possible. 

After all, James and Leonard can't score every point themselves, and by keeping Ingram or Kuzma, the Lakers would be in good position to attack opposing defenses with a handful of scorers while improving defensively. 

However, if the Lakers miss out on Leonard, just like they did with a potential trade for Paul George last summer, the roster build becomes more complicated.


Leonard Trade Falls Through, Lakers Dump Salary, Go After Free Agents 

There is a scenario in which the Spurs don't trade Leonard to the Lakers because the two teams can't agree on the proper compensation. 

In that situation, the Lakers could go out on the free-agent market and bring in one or two more players to round out their roster. 

By renouncing Julius Randle's rights, which subsequently led to him joining the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers opened up $12.5 million in cap space, per Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times

The cap space could grow if the Lakers find a way to stretch Luol Deng's contract, or trade him for little return, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor noted: 

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

After renouncing Julius Randle, the Lakers are at $13.8M cap space before signing Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. They can get to $23.6M by stretching Luol Deng or $30.9M by trading Deng and taking nothing back.

In a perfect world where the Lakers dump Deng's contract, they would have the money to go after one of the remaining big names in free agency, like Clint Capela, or bring in two players on cheaper deals. 

If Capela decides to stay in Houston, the Lakers would be looking at a potential return for Brook Lopez, or they could turn to someone like Kyle O'Quinn for frontcourt help. 

If the Lakers decide to go after the best players available on the market, Jabari Parker, Wayne Ellington or Rodney Hood could be options. 

The Lakers could also continue their trend of signing veterans to one-year deals, which could pave the path for Jamal Crawford to join up with the franchise. 

Although the remaining free agents on the market aren't marquee names, there are options out there for the Lakers, especially if they free up more cap space. 


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