The Lakers will not be reckless in free agency for a change. The team plans to reserve cap space for a potential pursuit of LeBron James in 2018.
The Lakers are determined not to blow precious salary cap space as the previous regime did last summer. Don’t expect to see them commit another $136 million to players who will keep them at the bottom of the standings. According to the Orange County Register, new General Manager Rob Pelinka discussed a more measured approach during free agency this year.
“We’ll be very strategic to keep the cap space in 2018. We’ll be very sacred about that. We have worked very hard to get into that position. So we’ll be smart in free agency.”
Magic Johnson and Pelinka have already gotten off to an impressive start as the new front office leaders. Astonishingly, they found a taker for Timofey Mozgov’s horrific $16 million annual salary. D’Angelo Russell was collateral damage, but still a huge win for the franchise. The Lakers got Brook Lopez on an expiring contract in return. They are now positioned to have approximately $60 million in cap space next summer.
Johnson and Pelinka seem reluctant to give up assets for Paul George right now. George made it clear he wants to play in Los Angeles, but he’s not a free agent yet. Unfortunately, the Pacers are almost guaranteed to move him before he hits the open market in 2018. It’s a dice roll for sure. But this methodical approach is almost refreshing.
While they would certainly love to have Paul George, there are bigger targets out there. LeBron James is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. He should expect to hear from Johnson. Los Angeles is balking at the idea of including 2016 No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram in any trades. Maybe Ingram can develop into a star under James’ tutelage. Wait, the Lakers believe they can James in free agency? Yes they do. Magic Johnson is very optimistic and said he is betting on himself.
Yes, they have a ways to go, but don’t bet on these guys being a laughing stock going forward.