HomeSportsNothing will come easy for the Lakers this offseason

Nothing will come easy for the Lakers this offseason

Many things could be true regarding the upcoming season of the Los Angeles Lakers and their various outcomes. They could bring back Austin Reeves and Rui Hachimura, and the Lakers, by all accounts, plan to match any rival offer sheet for the two playoff standouts. They could bring back D’Angelo Russell. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka hinted as much during a season-ending media availability on Tuesday following Los Angeles’ 4-0 loss to Denver in the Western Conference Finals.

Pelinka told reporters, “I will say this abundantly clear: Our intention is to keep young people together.” “We saw incredible growth and accomplishment by Rui, Austin – I could go down the list – (Jared Vanderbilt), (Russell). We have many great young players and we will be giving our best as this puzzle fits together.” … Again, without talking to specific players, we will do our best to keep this group intact and grow and get better every year.

It’s going to be expensive, as is any competitive roster in today’s NBA, and there will be a lot of winky cap gymnastics for Pelinka’s front office to deal with. Avoiding the second tax apron under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement will be a major concern. League sources told Yahoo Sports that the first flirtation with LeBron James’ retirement came as a surprise to many Los Angeles staffers. Alas, there’s widespread doubt that James will truly hang up his signature sneakers before two years, with a $97 million contract extension yet to kick in. There’s no shortage of theories about why James delivered his contemplative message in the post-game availability on Monday night, but for the sake of sifting through the Lakers’ summer scenarios, let’s work under the assumption that most of the game’s post-game availability was a question of concern. One of the greats — who posted 40 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 4 losses to the Nuggets — is returning for the 2023-24 season before he has a long time to play with or against his son, Brony. Broad target may be possible in 2024-25.

Austin Reeves was a revelation for the Lakers this season, but his services won’t be cheap next year. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Several teams, including the Lakers, will show some of their off-season cards in the NBA draft, which comes just a week before Los Angeles makes a crucial decision on June 29 regarding Malik Beasley’s $16.5 million team option for next year, and guarantees Or not. Mo Bamba and Jarred Vanderbilt’s contracts. With only $4.6 million outstanding, it would be surprising if the Lakers don’t take on Vanderbilt’s salary, unless Los Angeles plans to discard the rest of the roster and play with $30 million in cap room. It is a difficult dance though. Bamba has $10.3 million non-guaranteed for 2023-24. Combine this with Beasley’s salary, and the Lakers could likely find a trade amid the draft night chaos that strengthens their supporting cast for James and Anthony Davis — without sacrificing the depth they worked so hard to acquire midseason. Did.

League sources told Yahoo Sports that Beasley’s name was discussed heavily ahead of the February trade deadline as Utah tried to make its biggest possible comeback deal for a handful of veterans, including Vanderbilt. Sources said the Hawks registered interest and discovered a package from Beasley and Vanderbilt for John Collins. The Knicks were another team that courted Beasley, the sources said, attempting to land Beasley and Vanderbilt in a deal that sent out Evan Fournier. New York also looked at Beasley in 2020, when he was a restricted free agent, and that was before Gerson Rojas, then president of the Timberwolves, signed Beasley to a four-year, $60 million contract as a senior basketball consultant. As joined the Knicks. Perhaps Cleveland, looking for shooting wing, would be eager to discuss a deal for Beasley. Sources said Portland had also expressed interest in Beasley.

From there, Reeves’ restricted free agency is the Lakers’ biggest swing point in terms of numbers. It would be a real shocker to see him or Hachimura anywhere else. It is rare to find young players with proven postseason value in this league, and the Lakers are not taking Reeves or Hachimura lightly. Both were regarded as high-character locker-room presences in addition to their effectiveness on the court through the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals.

In a perfect world for Los Angeles, they sign the undrafted combo guard to a four-year deal north of $50 million, capping the offer, which leaves the Lakers still a $12.2 million non-taxpayer mid-season. Will allow access to the level exception and a bi-annual exception worth roughly $4.5 million, and then fill out the rest of the roster with veteran minimums in addition to re-signing Hachimura and Russell with bird rights. If another team reaches above that limit and offers Reeves, it will not only hinder Los Angeles’ efforts to bring this group back, but add to it while it remains under the second apron.

One cap strategist told Yahoo Sports, “It’s all about a team that wants to f*** the Lakers.” A suitor could offer Reeves a lump sum worth as much as $20 million in annual salary. One obvious candidate: the Rockets, with upwards of $60 million in cap space aiming to compete next season and the potential need for alternate plans should James Harden ultimately prevent a Houston homecoming.

Reeves qualifies as an Arenas Rules player, a restricted free agent after serving two years, which will put the maximum of his next contract around four years at an estimated $100 million. Similarly to when Brooklyn tried to lure Tyler Johnson away from the Miami Heat in 2016 – when the Nets offered Johnson a deal that started at around $6 million over the first two years and grew to around $20 million over the final two seasons. Gaya — A rival team could offer Reeves a hefty contract that, after matching the Lakers, would start at around $12 million and then surpass Johnson’s $20 million salary for the final two seasons.

Hachimura also prepared himself for a nice payday. During expansion talks with the Wizards, sources said, Washington offered Hachimura around $12 million per season, and eventually moved to a range of $13 million–14 million. Meanwhile, Hachimura’s side preferred something closer to a four-year, $60 million structure. It seemed like that number was destiny for him at the end of the regular season. Los Angeles doesn’t surrender three second-round selections for Hachimura at the deadline without broadly understanding his salary desires. After a strong playoff run where the 24-year-old forward played crucial closing minutes and started the Lakers’ final outing, $15 million in average annual value seems like the floor for Hachimura. Josh Hart’s extension talks with New York are expected to reach $18 million a year, sources told Yahoo Sports, and the NBA free-agent marketplace is a comparative economy. For any clue of rival teams that might land an offer sheet in Hachimura’s direction, sources said Indiana and Phoenix were considered strong contenders for him in February, and nearly completed deals with the Wizards for him. Were.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura scores in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals series against the Denver Nuggets on Monday, May 22, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Rui Hachimura’s value increased with some stellar playoff performances. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Then there is the matter of Russell, who is seeking a new deal worth more than $100 million over four years while he is with the Timberwolves, sources said. After an inconsistent postseason, it’s hard to imagine many bidders for Russell at that price point. If they intend to retain him, the Lakers can definitely benefit. He was the headliner following Los Angeles’ return from February’s three-team swap, which sent a first-round pick in addition to Russell Westbrook’s expiring salary, and also netted Beasley and Vanderbilt. Russell, however, does not bring the defensive tenacity preferred by head coach Darwin Hamm. And the Lakers might be wise to explore sign-and-trade scenarios that could bring back a player who fits more cohesively with this roster.

But Russell is also viewed as a positive presence around the Lakers, sources said. Even as his time watching from the bench increased, he was still flashing the team’s 3-point celebration when teammates connected from deep. Perhaps a short-term deal could bring Russell closer to the average annual price he was seeking. A two-year deal worth roughly $40 million could give Russell his wealth as well as leave the Lakers with a floating contract if they desire that type of flexibility.

You can bet that Lonnie Walker searches for his own payday after a breakout playoff, especially his electric Game 4 effort against the Golden State Warriors. Keeping up with Dennis Schroder won’t be easy either. If Los Angeles is able to keep its full mid-tier available, perhaps it can put Schroder on that salary slot. If the Lakers can persuade Schroder to sign a $4.5 million bi-annual exception, nearly double his veteran minimum salary from this season, Los Angeles could reward him with a four-year, $58 million deal starting in 2024–25. Could, similar to how Nicolas Batum and Bobby Portis stuck around the Clippers and Bucks, respectively — and it would leave the Lakers with a selection of mid-level-caliber free agents.

Yet while Schroder is known to have an affinity for Los Angeles and play under ham, it would be hard to fault the veteran for searching for rich rewards elsewhere, especially after two consecutive seasons earning less than his market value. After. Schroder proved himself to be one of the premier backup point guards in the NBA in the playoffs and merged into the Lakers’ starting lineup at various parts of the campaign. Any salary structure that is at least equal to Tyus Jones’ recent two-year, $29 million deal in Memphis sees Jones as another elite reserve floor general at worst and a quality starter at worst , would seem a reasonable starting point for Schroder’s services.

Los Angeles finished the regular season 18–8, the second best in the NBA after the trade deadline. The Lakers became the only Western Conference team under Steve Kerr to defeat the Warriors. A sweep for Denver, just one round shy of the finals, certainly left a sour taste for a season that featured such a remarkable turnaround from a terrible 2-10 start. For those in the Los Angeles building who are optimistic about what this new roster can accomplish with a full season together, it’s easy to paint a picture for 2023-24 that largely involves the same cast of characters. There is a similar level of role and success. However, a massive offer sheet for either Reeves or Hachimura makes this conundrum a bit more difficult.



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