Woj: Lakers Could Make Trades at Deadline to Help Re-Sign Schroder, Caruso, More

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Monday, March 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers may look to improve their roster ahead of this year's NBA trade deadline, but don't be surprised if they also take future salary constraints into consideration as they look to re-sign Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker in the offseason.

"The Lakers are interesting because I think the Lakers are looking a little bit down the road too at their salary structure," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast, The Woj Pod, on Thursday (h/t RealGM). "Dennis Schroder, they've got to pay him this offseason. It's going to cost well over $20 million a year to keep him."

He added: "I do think they would like to free up some of that money they owe down the line to put themselves in position to keep the guys they have there. I think that's kind of at the center of some of their talks here around the trade deadline."

Here's a rough estimation of the Lakers' current cap obligations for next season as the team stands now, per Spotrac:

  • LeBron James: $41.1 million
  • Anthony Davis: $35.3 million
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: $13 million
  • Kyle Kuzma: $13 million
  • Montrezl Harrell: $9.7 million player option 
  • Marc Gasol: $2.6 million
  • Alfonzo McKinnie: $1.9 million (non-guaranteed)

Let's assume that Harrell opts out of that player option and seeks a bigger deal on the market. That still leaves the Lakers at $106.9 million in cap obligations. That's not going to leave them a ton of wiggle room to bring back players like Schroder, Caruso or Horton-Tucker. 

Schroder, 27, is the team's third-leading scorer (14.1 PPG) and has fit nicely alongside James and Davis. Caruso brings energy, defense and playmaking (2.4 APG) off the bench. The 20-year-old Horton-Tucker is developing into a solid depth piece on the wing (7.7 PPG in 18 MPG). 

If the Lakers are going to move off long-term money, however, players like Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma would be the logical options. Caldwell-Pope is having something of a down year, averaging just 8.8 points per game, though he is shooting 40.9 percent from three. 

Kuzma is a solid scoring threat off the bench for the Lakers and his $3.5 million cap figure for this season wouldn't be terribly hard to move in a trade. The team dealing for him would have to be comfortable taking on the three-year, $39 million extension that kicks in after this season, however. 

If the Lakers do move off of future money, then, it seems more likely that Caldwell-Pope would be the odd man out (even if he is a Klutch Sports client, which also represents James). Perhaps the Lakers could find a suitor willing to send back a frontcourt piece on an expiring contract, helping them both in the short and long term.

Otherwise, expect the Lakers to stick to the buyout market for any potential roster upgrades.