New center: DeMarcus Cousins
First, let’s set the stage. The Lakers are going to need to free up some space in order to obtain James, Cousins and the third mystery superstar. Right now, Los Angeles has slightly around $55 million worth of cap space that will be freed up after this season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Corey Brewer and Brook Lopez make up $47 million of that. Assuming the Lakers do not match any offer sheets for Julius Randle, that is over $50 million for four players.
Fifty-five million dollars may be enough to bring in two superstars, assuming they both took a slight pay cut. Today’s NBA is all about creating the biggest, baddest super team possible. Shaving $5 million in salary will only be made up by endorsements in the massive market of Los Angeles.
However, if the Lakers want to create a superstar trio they are going to have some work cut out for them. Luckily for Los Angeles, Jordan Clarkson and Luol Deng combine for a cap hit of $18 million next season. Clarkson, who is averaging 14.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds, is becoming more promising on the trade market as every game passes.
Los Angeles can package the duo with two more young stars — Julius Randle (who will likely walk after this season anyway) and Josh Hart. Thus, a rebuilding team like the Utah Jazz could send expiring deals like Joe Johnson and Derrick Favors in favor of young, progressive talent.
Throw in some future draft picks and it is a shoo-in. Now, the Lakers would have over $70 million in free cap space; more than enough to sign free agent DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James and the third member of this super team — if they all take slight pay cuts.