Lakers trade Wagner, 2 others to clear cap room for a max free agent

The Lakers have done it again.

Through a pair of moves finalized Thursday afternoon, the Lakers created enough cap space to sign a max free agent this summer, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

First, Los Angeles sent three contracts — Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones — to the Washington Wizards in a cost-cutting move. 

The Lakers also will not have to pay Anthony Davis his $4 million trade bonus, according to Wojnarowski. 

Those outcomes create a perfect scenario for the Lakers, who now have $32.5 million to spend on a max-level player when free agency opens on June 30.

The question now becomes: Who will the Lakers target? 

Kawhi Leonard, the best available healthy player, and Kemba Walker, arguably the best available point guard, figure to get the first calls from Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

Signing either of those players could be an uphill battle. Walker has been linked to the Celtics and many believe Leonard is choosing between the Clippers and Raptors. However, if the Lakers strikeout with either of those options, there are still quality free agents available. 

Philadelphia guard Jimmy Butler, Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton, Milwaukee guard Malcolm Brogdon and Brooklyn guard D’Angelo Russell are just a few of the places the Lakers could look to find a third a star. 

Brogdon, who is fresh off a 50-40-90 campaign, would likely be the cheapest of those options but would be a good fit next to Davis and LeBron James. Brogdon and Russell are both restricted free agents but if the Nets land Kyrie Irving, they won’t match an offer sheet for Russell.

Brogdon also represents another path the Lakers could take — splitting up their $32.5 million in cap space between multiple role players, rather than using all of it on a third star. The Lakers currently only have three players under contract for next season, so that could be an attractive option if Walker and Leonard head elsewhere. 

If L.A chooses to use the cap space on more than one player, other free agents like Toronto’s Danny Green, Orlando’s Terrence Ross and Portland’s Seth Curry could be in play.

NBA free agency is set to open on June 30. 

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