With Russell Westbrook returning home to play with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a ton of cap flexibility to add players around their three stars. The team is expected to have the $5.9 million, mini mid-level exception to use in free agency, and can exceed the cap to re-sign their own free agents like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso, but beyond that will mostly be adding to the roster with veteran’s minimum contracts.
The good news is that the team will reportedly have quite a few good players who are willing to take less to join a title contender in Los Angeles. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said earlier this week that executives around the league felt like there were veterans lining up to take less to join the Lakers, and on Saturday, Fischer reported who a few of those names are thought to be (via B/R):
With Westbrook now headed to Los Angeles, multiple league personnel contacted by B/R expect there to be significant interest from several veterans, including DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony, to forgo higher salary opportunities elsewhere and join the Lakers in pursuit of a championship.
For what it’s worth, this slightly conflicts with a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports on Friday, in which Haynes reported that the DeRozan possibility was dead now that Kyle Kuzma is no longer available to be traded to the Spurs in a sign-and-trade swap. DeRozan would have to take a more than $20 million pay cut to join the Lakers at this point.
But DeRozan or no DeRozan, Gay and Anthony definitely seem to be real possibilities. LeBron has wanted his banana boat buddy Anthony on the Lakers for quite a while, and Anthony would seem likely to want one more chance to chase a ring, something he has little opportunity to do with the Portland Trail Blazers. He also has been playing for the veteran’s minimum, so financially, it’s easy to see a fit.
Anthony spent 71% of his minutes at power forward last season and shot a career-high 40.9% from 3-point range as well, according to Basketball-Reference, so he does make basketball sense for a Lakers team that needs ready, willing and capable shooters from distance.
Gay would have to take a bit more of a pay cut after making $14.5 million last season, but could realistically be a candidate for the mid-level if he’s willing to take less to win his first title. He would also give the Lakers a capable stretch four after shooting 38.1% from three last year (the third-highest percentage of his career) and playing 88% of his minutes at power forward, per BBall-Ref.
Both Gay and Anthony could help the Lakers space the floor with their shooting while potentially providing more value than the contracts the Lakers could sign them to, making them really solid targets for the team, if they’re actually available. But whether those two specifically come aboard, or if it’s DeRozan or other vets, all signs seem to point towards the Lakers getting decent value for their buck. For a team with limited means to add to their roster financially in free agency, that’s just about the best news possible.