But now, slim as it is, there seems to be a chance for a reunion. Marc Stein reported in his Substack newsletter that the Lakers were looking for a playmaker who would allow LeBron James to spend more time up front and Anthony Davis to spend more time in the center. On that front, he writes that he “will expect to hear from them eventually looking for potential avenues, as stubborn as they are, to re-acquire future restricted free agent Lonzo Ball.”
As Stein suggests, there would be a number of obstacles between the Lakers and Ball. The most obvious is that Ball is just a restricted free agent. The Pelicans can match any offer made to Ball, and the Lakers don’t even have the space to sign him to a lucrative contract. Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that the Pelicans are unlikely to match a big offer for Ball, so they might be willing to send him to Los Angeles in some other kind of arrangement.
The Lakers won’t have enough space to sign Ball directly, but they could strike a signing-and-swap deal with the Pelicans if Ball agrees. This is where the most serious obstacle for the Lakers emerges. Acquiring any player through a sign-and-swap deal limits a team to the apron, a figure of around $ 6 million above the luxury tax. The final figure has yet to be set for next year’s apron, but it is expected to be around $ 142 million based on a planned 3 percent increase in the cap. The Lakers already have $ 76.4 million pledged for James and Davis alone, and they have an additional $ 5 million in dead money on their books after using the stretch provision to forgo Luol Deng.
Let’s say Ball costs $ 20 million next season. That would only leave the Lakers with around $ 40 million to fill everything else on their roster. They already owe pretty much that to Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell (if he chooses his player option) and Marc Gasol. Some of those players would be involved in the ball trade, but some would likely stay, and the Lakers will also have to decide what to do with their own free agents. They would probably prefer not to lose Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker for nothing.
If the Lakers see Ball as a third star, they might be willing to sacrifice the depth it would take to fit him into their salary structure and play next season under a hard cap. In theory, his newly developed excellence in catching and shooting, defensive versatility, and transition play would make him an excellent choice as a off-guard, but the Lakers more than anything need another creator of the game. half court shot. That has never been Ball’s strong suit, and there are players already under contract with other teams the Lakers could pursue instead who could fill that role without raising a hard cap.
In other words, Ball is unlikely to return to the Lakers. Another team that Charania mentions as a possibility for Ball, the Clippers, have the same problem. If he leaves the Pelicans, a team like the Bulls or Knicks that can create enough cap space to sign him outright, would likely make more sense. But if Ball is willing to sacrifice enough money to be a Laker, or if the Lakers really see him as the missing piece in a possible championship race, there are ways to lure him to Los Angeles with a contract to value. Merchant.