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Why the Lakers are better off trading players now

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Kirby Lee USA Today Sports

The Lakers may be better off trading several players before the trade deadline for several reasons. For starters, they will have more flexibility in terms of the salaries they are allowed to receive in the trade. For example, they can win back up to $58.9 million in Westbrook’s wages this season alone, nearly double the purchasing power they have next season. This process will allow them to go much deeper than the cap area.

Not all players they acquire have to be under contract for the next season as they can also re-sign expired players with their bird rights. They can then add another player in one of the MLE amounts. For comparison, the cap space route with room MLE can realistically win three Lakers players in total rotation, while the trade route can add more this season as well as a more valuable player in the offseason with a higher MLE.

The Lakers will have to part with assets if they transfer any of their expired players to make significant roster upgrades this season but the opportunity cost is low. Any such deal could only be a half measure so that they have justification for holding on to their tradable first round picks for the time being. But if they get unwanted paychecks after this current season from other teams, they could potentially get some assets. Adding more draft picks or prospects gives them a better chance of moving up the roster through a trade later.

There are many teams that may be looking to get their hands on long-term funds before the trade deadline. New York is open to moving Derek rose And cam redish But you might also like to get off Evan Fournier also. Dallas You may want to find new homes for Tim Hardaway JrAnd Davis BertansAnd Javel McGee. Perhaps Charlotte would like to unload Gordon Hayward And players like Terry RoserAnd Kelly UberAnd Mason PlumleyAnd Jalen McDaniels We are expected to receive interest.

These are just some of the hypothetical frameworks where the Lakers will be able to turn around a bunch of their expiring contracts for players that would void their cap space this summer. They could also help take the Lakers deeper this season and depending on the structure of the deal, save money on the luxury tax. The structure the assets are linked to would be beneficial.

However, maximizing their salary by trading their expired contracts for as much salary as possible, signing someone with the MLE, and re-signing players like Austin Reeves And Looney Walker IV That could put them deep into tax next year. This path can get close to a 9-figure luxury tax penalty, but it gives them a much better chance of competing again.

Another problem if they head into the offseason as a team in the cap space is that they could miss out on potential business opportunities. For example, if a player like Zack Lavigne or Bradley Bell To become available, the Lakers would not stand a chance of getting it through their cap space. This is because the cap space of $30 million would not be enough to accommodate such an expensive player.

While many of the previously mentioned trade candidates may not be contributors, their contracts can still be useful for salary matching in future trades. These players will keep the Lakers in the mix to make a big deal in the offseason. If this path interests them, they will need to load players under contract for 2023-24 before the February 9 trade deadline. This is because they will not be able to transfer any of their players to expired contracts once the deadline has passed.

One alternative to this is to now trade Westbrook into an asymmetric trade where a major trading exception is being created. But this can cost them assets and any players they acquire within the trade exclusion cannot be bundled into a two-month deal, meaning they can still miss out on trade opportunities in July.

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