The Los Angeles Lakers are putting themselves in a good position to make a big splash in the 2018 free-agency market, as they have several young talents and other important assets to use in a potential trade.
However, they first have to get through the 2017-18 basketball season, during which time they’ll try to be more competitive than they were last year.
Therefore, new team president Magic Johnson and new general manager Rob Pelinka are looking to add a few players on one-year deals this offseason to maintain their 2018 salary cap space.
According to an ESPN.com report, the Lakers have added a player who fits their one-year window in former Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:
“He is expected to have a significant role with the Lakers, who recruited him hard after he became an unrestricted free agent last week,” ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst writes.
“The deal will enable Caldwell-Pope to re-enter the market in 2018, when the salary cap is expected to rise and there will be a strong market for shooting guards.”
Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists while appearing in 76 games for the Pistons during the 2016-17 regular season.
According to the report, Caldwell-Pope’s one-year deal is worth $18 million, which puts the Lakers over the salary cap. However, the team is expected to make another move or two in order to free up space to pursue other free agents.
One free agent Windhorst says the Lakers are interested in is point guard Rajon Rondo, who has a lot of similarities in his game to Lonzo Ball, who Los Angeles selected with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
The Lakers already traded former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell this offseason to make room for Ball, so it doesn’t make sense for them to pay too much for Rondo, as he would likely be used solely as a backup for the former UCLA star.
The Lakers are in the conversation to land former Indiana Pacers star Paul George next offseason, and could have possibly traded for him this year. However, they decided to wait and will now try to sign him away from the Oklahoma City Thunder next summer.
In other big-name news, LeBron James’s name has been batted around as a possibility for the Lakers in 2018, though that’s nothing more than conjecture at this point.
One thing is for sure, though, with guys like Ball and Caldwell-Pope in the mix this season, the Lakers should finish a lot better than 26-56 this time around.