Each year, the league sets a limit on how much teams can spend on players through the salary cap. The projected cap for the 2015-16 season is around $67m. This is a jump of about $4m based off the 2015-15 cap of $63.065m.
Currently the Lakers have the following players under contract:
Kobe Bryant – $25m
Nick Young – $5.219m
Julius Randle – $3.132m
Ryan Kelly – $1.724m
Also, the Lakers can and should keep the following non guaranteed minimum contracts of:
Tarik Black – $845K
Robert Sacre – $981K
Jordan Clarkson – $845K
This brings the total to $37,747,125
Now, while the Lakers owe their 2015 first-round pick to the 76ers (by way of the Suns), it is top 5 protected. This means that if it is one of the top five selections, the Lakers will keep it. If it falls outside the top five, Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie will be throwing a party.
The Lakers are currently sitting in fourth position in the draft with a record of 18-50. Depending where they finish and the lottery results, that selection can jump to 1, or fall all the way to 6 or 7. A first round pick (1-5) is worth between $3.117m to $4.753m depending on where exactly it falls.
The Lakers are owed an additional first-round pick (top 15 protected) from Houston as a sweetener in the Jeremy Lin trade. Houston’s record is currently 46-23 and is sitting in 26th position in the draft. This pick can fall anywhere between 21st and 27th position and is worth around $1m – $1.2m.
For this excercise we are using the current position of the Lakers picks.
4th Pick – $3.443m
26th Pick – $991K
This brings the total of 9 players to $42,181,825. We are also assuming the Lakers do not pick up Jordan Hill’s $9m team option, Ed Davis opts out, and the Lakers renouncing the rights to everyone else on the roster (Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price, Ed Davis and Jordan Hill).
Also in order to maximize cap space the team would need to renounce the Bi-Annual and Mid-Level Exceptions, but in doing so they would no longer be able to use them.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a minimum cap hold is added in for any roster under 12 players, so the Lakers would need to add in 3 cap holds at $525k each)
The team’s payroll would now be at $43,757,104.
Based off the approximate cap figure of $67m, the Lakers would have $23,242,896 to spend in free agency, meaning the team would have space to sign a max free agent.
We have added a calculator at the bottom so you can test out different scenarios.
FYI: For players with up to 6 years of service a maximum salary would start anywhere between $15.5m to 16.5m, $19m to $20m for 7-9 years of service and $21m to $23m for 10 or more years’ service. These are estimates however, because the actual figures won’t be known till July.