The Los Angeles Lakers are firmly entrenched in rumor season, with Paul George’s increasing interest at the top of the docket. But as they continue their pursuit of the Indiana Pacers’ star, the Lakers must also look for ways to build a contender around him should he choose to join the team in 2018.
The Lakers will find it difficult to do so, however, due to their financial situation. Trapped with two enormous contracts given to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov last summer, the team does not have much by way of cap space, especially as their younger players get closer to receiving their second contracts in the NBA.
The Lakers have two options to get rid of either or both of those contracts. The first is cutting one of the players and stretching his contract over the length of his deal times two plus one, meaning they will have more cap space on a per-year basis but will be strapped to that money for years.
The other possibility is trading Mozgov or Deng. However, as both players are vastly overpaid on poor contracts, doing so would require attaching valuable assets as sweeteners for the teams taking on those contracts.
For now, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are not looking for any such offers:
For now, LA resisting salary dumps on Mozgov or Deng needed to clear future space. Teams trying to snag pick/young player to absorb deals.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
This is a smart move by the Lakers. While getting rid of at least one of those contracts is eventually a necessity, there’s no reason to do so this quickly.
The Lakers have no guarantee that Paul George will come to LA, even if he is making it painfully obvious that he currently wants to. So why send away assets like their young players or future picks to clear up cap space that they don’t intend to use this summer, even if they might be skeptical about some of those players?
Unless an absolutely great deal comes along (say the #28 pick as the only sweetener in getting rid of one of Mozgov or Deng’s contracts), there is no sense in the Lakers rushing to get the money off the books. For now, they can absorb the contracts and wait for the perfect opportunity to strike.