Lakers’ Bold ‘Tentative’ Offseason Plan, Revealed

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

NBA insider Jovan Buha of The Athletic says the Los Angeles Lakers’ tentative offseason plan is to run it back with as much of this past season’s group as they can possibly afford.

The Lakers, who began this season 2-10, made it all the way to the conference finals after the front office acquired Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba during the season.

“The tentative plan for the Lakers is to run it back with as much of this past season’s group as they can possibly afford under the new, stricter collective bargaining agreement,” Buha wrote. “They will only pursue a third star if they deem that player of a certain caliber and believe he can fit next to James and Davis.

“I think they run it back, or try to upgrade the point guard/lead ballhandler spot (Kyrie Irving, Fred VanVleet, Trae Young, etc.).”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Max Christie and Vanderbilt are the only players under contract for next season. Russell, Lonnie Walker IV, Dennis Schroder, Troy Brown Jr. and Tristan Thompson become unrestricted free agents this summer, Austin Reaves and Hachimura become restricted free agents, Beasley has a club option and Bamba has a non-guaranteed contract.

“I think James ($46.9 million), Davis ($40.6 million), Reaves (about $12.5 million if he signs for the Arenas Provision max), Hachimura ($15 to $18 million), Vanderbilt ($4.7 million) and Christie ($1.7 million) are likely on next season’s roster,” Buha wrote. “Beyond that, it gets murky.”

The Lakers got swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. LeBron, who has a torn tendon in his right foot, may need offseason surgery. If James gets surgery, he could be sidelined for two months.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

“The two players it’s appearing won’t be back are Bamba and Beasley, if only because of their contracts,” Buha wrote. “With the aforementioned six names expected to return, the Lakers would be at around $120 million to $125 million — depending on the salary of Hachimura — in salary before factoring in cap holds or empty roster charges. Add Bamba’s $10.3 million non-guaranteed salary and Beasley’s $16.5 million team option, and they’re pushing $150-plus million with just eight players — and that’s before including free agents like Russell, Schröder or Walker.

“Russell is more likely than not to be back, but his return is not a lock. The Lakers are going to explore their options and upgrade if it makes sense.”

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