Bleacher Report Staff 2017 NBA Free-Agency Predictions

Lakers Stand Pat (But Not by Choice)

The Los Angeles Lakers can manufacture a ton of cap space if Nick Young opts out of his contract (fairly likely) and they waive Tarik Black’s non-guaranteed salary (less likely). Team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will be on the lookout for another star, but it’ll take too much finagling for the Lakers to enter the fray for $30-plus-million-a-year maxes demanded from this summer’s top prizes.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a more realistic option. The Lakers will have minutes to fill on the perimeter with Young and Lou Williams both gone, and Caldwell-Pope is a scrappy defender who can run some pick-and-roll without burning through too many possessions.

The problem for L.A. is the Detroit Pistons will match whatever Los Angeles offers. Brooklyn and Philly might even beat Johnson and Pelinka to the punch. And that’s fine. The Lakers must maintain cap flexibility for Paul George’s free agency in 2018 (player option), even if the plan is to try trading for him sooner.

Deals for Luol Deng and Tomofey Mozgov hamstring them considerably, so if they’re going to add another financial obstacle to the George equation, it should be in an attempt to woo young complementary wings with high upside.

Fail, as expected, and nothing changes. Get lucky, and you’re more appealing to George should you still be able to conjure the necessary cap space or trade packages.

—B/R’s Dan Favale