With the 2018-19 NBA season officially over, the Los Angeles Lakers and 28 teams are focused on how to dethrone the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
As the NBA is wide open for the first time in five seasons, the Lakers traded their young core (minus Kyle Kuzma) and draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
As the Lakers are looking to build a sustainable contender, they are not satisfied with just Davis and LeBron James.
Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler are ‘top priorities’ for the Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
With James and Davis as the cornerstones of the franchise, the Lakers still have room to add one more star in free agency. Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler are top priorities, sources said.
However, the team’s ability to offer a max-contract slot will come down to when they officially make the Davis trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
If the Pelicans and Lakers had waited until July 30 to complete the trade, the Lakers could’ve had $32.5 million in cap space — enough to pursue a max-contract-level free agent. By waiting until July 30, Los Angeles would’ve been acting like a team over the cap and thus would be allowed to use the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s draft as salary. If the trade is finalized on July 6, that number shrinks to $27.7 million — a number lowered to $23.7 million with Davis’ trade kicker.
Since there are conflicting reports, the hope is general manager Rob Pelinka and company did not overlook the date and they will still have a max-contract slot available.
Although it appeared the Lakers signing a second All-Star would be a challenge, the Davis trade has completely changed the team’s outlook moving forward now.
Along with Walker and Butler, the Lakers have also been linked to Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. If Los Angeles is able to establish a big three, role players may be willing to take less for an opportunity to win championships.
Regardless of what happens in free agency, the Lakers have created more options for themselves. With or without a third All-Star player, the Lakers are a legitimate contender to win the 2020 NBA Finals with James and Davis leading them.