It’s been no secret that the top priority for the Los Angeles Lakers since the Timofey Mozgov trade has been shedding more contracts to make room for two max contracts. The front office has made it abundantly clear the plans for the future.
The natural players that have stuck out have been Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. The former is on a contract that runs through 2019-20 while the latter is due for a new contract this summer.
“It’s interesting, ok Zach. This is where you get to see if they are modern GMs. Because they did one of those trades where, you know in every deal you have a checkbox? You have three ideas you want to check off the list, right? ‘We want to keep our flexibility, we want to not add cap space and we want young players, maybe get a draft pick, etc.’ Well they were able to do that with that Mozgov trade, right? They were able to do – everything they wanted to trade, they did in that one. I think they would love to do the same thing in all their conversations they’re having. But this may be a two or three step process for them to shed the kind of salary they need to shed while also getting assets.
From what I understand, they’ve had offers for Randle and Clarkson. They’ve had offers where they could potentially get a first-round pick back, but then you don’t save any money on salary, right? Or you’re cash flat. You get a pick but you’re cash flat. Or maybe save two million instead of, you know, the whole thing. Which means you do one trade now and probably package whatever you got then or you use the draft pick yourself and then you made another trade at the draft. That’s a little more complicated, right? Because you have to pull off it off twice, but I think that’s more where they are right now.”
From the sound of it, the Lakers have received offers that include them taking on salary along with a first-round pick. For example, the Lakers and Cavaliers have had conversations that might include taking on Iman Shumpert’s contract along with a pick, knowing that Shumpert has a contract that includes a player option this summer.
Whether this is a non-starter for the Lakers remains to be seen. The Lakers may feel comfortable they can trade Clarkson or Randle for no salary in return in the summer. Or maybe the potential asset the Lakers take on, whether it be a draft pick or a young player.
Regardless, it’s clear there is a market for these players. Whether the Lakers are interested in making a trade versus striving for roster continuity remains to be seen.