LOS ANGELES (CBS)- The Los Angeles Lakers made a big splash to open the NBA offseason on Saturday, agreeing to a deal in principle with the New Orleans Pelicans for star forward Anthony Davis. While that move alone will energize the fanbase, the Lakers appear to be far from done wheeling and dealing.
In the wake of Saturday afternoon’s news, there were a slew of rumors about who the next potential target for the team would be when free agency comes on June 30th. Depending on when the deal is officially agreed to, the Lakers could have enough space to add another max-salary player on the free agent market. CBSSports.com’s Jack Maloney noted that if the deal becomes official July 6th, the team will have a little more than $23 million in cap space, but if it becomes official on July 30th, the team will have $32.5 million in space.
With that in mind, New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Lakers will prioritize Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker in free agency.
The 29-year-old Walker is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in points (25.6) and player efficiency rating (21.7) while finishing out the last year of his contract. He will be a free agent come June 30th when the negotiating period begins at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Likely joining him in free agency will be Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, who will reportedly decline his player option for next season and enter the open market.
“Could it be Kyrie Irving, whose frustration with the Celtics experience has been well chronicled and who has been tied to the Brooklyn Nets in recent days? It certainly matters that the two former Cavs co-stars reconciled back in January, when our Joe Vardon detailed the apology phone call heard ’round the basketball world. What’s more, it was also clear back then that James was open to the possibility of a reunion.”
Amick’s colleague at The Athletic, David Aldridge, voiced a similar feeling in the aftermath of the trade.
With Davis now in the fold and the Warriors stranglehold on the Western Conference in flux in the wake of the Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant injuries, it would appear that Pelinka senses an opening for the Lakers to get back to the Finals if they add a third superstar. With several heading to the market this summer, it should be an interesting two weeks before that negotiating window opens.