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With the Los Angeles Lakers chasing dreams of LeBron James and Paul George, or others, in the summer of 2018, they have slowly begun laying a path of how to acquire both.
The trade of D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez played a massive role in clearing cap space for next summer, helping the Lakers create enough space for a max contract and then some for next summer.
However, there is still work left to do. The Lakers have close to, but not enough, room for two max deals next summer should George and James want to team up in the purple and gold next summer. With an albatross contract in Luol Deng on the books and another large deal in Jordan Clarkson, the team could clear the necessary space with just one trade.
While it’s easier said than done, the Lakers are apparently rather confident they could make the room.
On the Laker Film Room podcast, Los Angeles Times writer Tania Ganguli offered a bit more insight into the Lakers’ thinking for next summer.
“Right now, as it stands right now, they don’t have the room to add two max guys. But they are talking like they do and that tells me they are very, very confident that, there is some movable pieces. They feel like they could trade Jordan Clarkson if they need to. There’s some flexibility they have on with what their decision is with Julius Randle next summer. There are some things they can do to free up some cap space. Obviously, being able to trade Mozgov was really helpful because that took up a big chunk of the cap space they’ll need for that. But when they made that move, they sort of looked at it as ‘Now the path is pretty easy…if you need to make the space to sign two max guys'”
The big take away from that is that the team feels they can move Clarkson and his roughly $12 million contract if necessary, clearing room for a pair of max contracts.
It certainly makes sense that the Lakers would look to move Clarkson first as a trade to shed his deal would come at a much, much lower price than one to shed Deng’s deal, which would still have two years and roughly $36 million on the books next summer.
Again, this is all likely easier said than done, but the Lakers wouldn’t be making these plans without having necessary contingencies in place.