The Los Angeles Lakers finally made a win-now move in the trade market after the fans of the franchise have been clamoring for it since last season's trading window. After trying to work towards a Kyrie Irving trade for the last 6 weeks, the Lakers finally traded 21-year-old prospect Talen Horton-Tucker for an expiring veteran contract in Patrick Beverley.
THT was going to be one of 5 Lakers to have a pre-existing contract for next season, as he has a player option for the 2023-24 season that guarantees him over $11 million. With him being moved, the Lakers currently only project to have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damian Jones (player option), and 2022 second-round pick Max Christie on the roster for next season.
According to former front office executive Bobby Marks, the Lakers have put themselves in a position to free up $34 million in cap next season. This could be enough to attract a high-value player if they're willing to give LA a discount to be able to play in the massive market alongside LBJ and AD.
While the Lakers have opened up cap space for next year, it is not a guarantee that they will be holding on to it. There are many trade options for the team right now that may see them take long-term salaried players for Russell Westbrook.
If the Lakers do the Myles Turner and Buddy Hield deal, they will have a cap hit of $19,279,841 from his contract next season. That reduces their current open space to $15 million.
Other possible trade targets with more than one season left on their deal that could join the team through a 3-team trade between the Jazz and the Knicks for Donovan Mitchell include Evan Fournier, Mike Conley, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson, to name a few.
It will be interesting to track how the Lakers keep making moves to give LeBron and AD the best chance to contend. Cap space is an avenue for the future, but it might not be the right move if they can get depth worth up to 3-4 players right now.