The Los Angeles Lakers want to have enough cap space to offer two-max contracts in free agency this summer, but to do so, the team will likely have to move on from at least two of the three of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Luol Deng.
There have been reports that the Lakers would ‘love’ to move on from Clarkson and Randle, but they’d almost assuredly rather flip Deng and the $36.8 million he’s owed in the final two years of his deal following the current campaign.
Of course, trading Deng is no easy task. Aside from his albatross of a contract, he’s essentially not played this season. Teams reportedly have asked the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma in any deal that includes Deng.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Lakers aren’t rushing to dump Randle and Clarskon, either. The team wants to make sure they find the right deal even though they’ve been offered first-round draft picks, via The Lowe Post Podcast:
“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, or you’re cash flat. Like you get a pick, but you’re cash flat. Or maybe save $2 million, instead of the whole thing. Which means you do one trade now and then you probably package whatever you’ve got then or you use the draft pick yourself, and then you make another trade at the draft. That’s a little more complicated right? Because you’ve got to pull it off twice, but I think that’s more of where they are right now.”
It’s important to note that while Shelburne doesn’t specify which teams are potentially offering first-round picks for Clarkson and/or Randle, they probably aren’t teams in the lottery, so it’s not the same as getting a high first rounder.
The Lakers would in all likelihood be receiving the types of picks in the back-end of the first round that playoff teams possess.
And while the Lakers’ selections of Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart in last year’s draft show that there is value to be mined there, the team is just likely being prudent about its long-term cap outlook.
And how complicated it would be to move whatever long-term money that came back in these theoretical deals for Randle and/or Clarkson, as well as potentially weighing whether either player is worth keeping around in case their free agency dreams don’t go as they hope in July.
With the trade deadline coming next week, the Lakers front office will have to make its decision soon, but it sounds like they might have better offers on the table than previously thought.
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