The Los Angeles Lakers’ Salary Implications After the Anthony Davis Trade

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: Anthony Davis and LeBron James attend the Klutch 2019 All Star Weekend Dinner Presented by Remy Martin and hosted by Klutch Sports Group at 5Church on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)

The Anthony Davis saga drew to a conclusion on Saturday night, as it was announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had struck a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced the news that the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans had agreed on a package to send Anthony Davis to California. Finally.

Wojnarowski reported that the deal includes; Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks. The #4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is included in the package.

Whilst many think that the Lakers gave up too much, they have acquired arguably a top-five talent in the NBA. This now opens up the free agent market for the franchise. A whole host of star names will be casting an eye on the Lakers, tempted to join forces with Davis and LeBron James. Names such as; Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker.

But where does that leave the Lakers in terms of salary moving forward? Many are suggesting a variety of figures and scenarios. So we’re going to clear this up in a simpler format below:

The Package:

Lonzo Ball ($8.7 million), Brandon Ingram ($7.2 million), Josh Hart ($1.9 million), and the 2019 #4 pick ($7.1 million), all add up to circa $24.9 million. This all but covers Davis’ $27.1 million contract.

Davis does possess a 15% trade bonus of $4.1 million that would come off the Lakers’ cap if exercised. If the bonus is waived and the timing works, the Lakers will hold $32.5 million in available salary going into the 2019 free agency period. This sits slightly short of the $32.7 million maximum that Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker, are expected to sign for.

The above players can choose to take a slight pay-cut should they decide to sign in Los Angeles. That, or Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga, who currently sit on the Lakers’ books, could be moved to acquire further salary. Additionally, Davis can waive his trade bonus to assist the Lakers in acquiring further roster talent.

The #4 Pick:

In addition, if the salary for this year’s #4 pick is to be included in the trade, the Lakers would need to sign the player drafted on July 1. Then, 30 days would have to pass before the deal can be officially announced. This method includes the $7.1 million cap hold of the pick in the deal, a pretty important factor in terms of salary.

If the 30-day option is not taken, the trade will be executed on July 6. However, this route shrinks the available cap space to $27.7 million. Furthermore, should Davis then take up the option for his trade bonus, the available salary shrinks further to $23.6 million.

Obviously, the 30-day wait would be the best situation for the Lakers as they look to maintain available salary. Although, the Pelicans don’t need to wait. Ideally, they would like their new draft pick by Summer League. This may be why two further future draft picks were included in the deal, as a way of compensation for the delay.

An additional factor with the 30-day wait is that Anthony Davis can accept his trade bonus at that point without it having an impact on the Lakers’ salary cap. That maintains $32.5 million in available cap space, thus opening up a path to sign a third star. That, or build a deep roster.

If the Lakers pull a third star to Los Angeles using the remainder of their salary, they will have the help of a $4.7M exception to add players. Minimum exceptions can be used as well, to flesh out the roster. There will most likely be a wide range of talent willing to take a minimum deal to ring chase, that’s for sure.

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