The Los Angeles Lakers are backing up their reigning championship by adding a great man with league experience whose career began with purple and gold.
Sources have reported to ESPN’ Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski that the Lakers are in the process of finalizing a two-year deal contract with center Marc Gasol.
The signing of the free agent, which would distract Gasol from several other interested suitors by offering a longer deal, will require some maneuvering by Lakers’ Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka to handle and manage the salary cap.
A source also reported that Los Angeles is the JaVale McGee mall and a future second-round pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make room for Gasol. Cleveland is sending Alfonzo McKinnie and Jordan Bell to the Lakers in the deal, sources said.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Gasol will be signing for the equivalent of the veteran’s minimum wage for a player with more than ten years of league service of $ 2.56 million per year. However, as Gasol will sign a two-year contract, L.A. won’t get the typical rooftop relief that comes from contracting a player to the minimum of a veteran.
Typically, a veteran’s one-year minimum contract only counts $ 1,620,564 against the limit, with the league paying the rest of the bill. It’s a mechanism that allows cap-strapped participants to continue setting up competitive rosters year after year. High-profile teams that bring in seasoned players, rather than less expensive, unproven young talent, also benefit the league by keeping players in the NBA that the league has already invested in marketing to develop exposure to its fans.
Since L.A. is signing Gasol for a two-year deal, the contract doesn’t qualify for the league’s estimated $ 1 million in cap relief per season.
According to Marks, both McKinnie ($ 1.8 million) and Bell ($ 1.8 million) had unsecured contracts for 2020-21. To make money between them and McGee – who recently signed off on his $ 4.2 million contracts for next season – matched up under commercial league guidelines, L.A. will have to guarantee some of their deals.
The Lakers will guarantee Bell’s $ 580,000 salary, give him up and use the facility to distribute the money owed to him for the next three years, league sources told Marks.
According to Marks, McKinnie’s contract has been fully secured, and he will start the season on the Lakers squad.
By adding Gasol and McKinnie as they say goodbye to McGee, L.A. will get ten players under contract, and when Anthony Davis signs his overtime to stay with the squad, as planned, that will bring the roster to 11. This will leave enough room for the Lakers to sign three more players on a one-year minimum veteran contract for 2020-21.
In Gasol, L.A. introduces a former All-Star to fill the center void created by Dwight Howard and McGee’s departure, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. Although Davis is more than capable in the middle and has played the position long during the Lakers’ playoffs, sources told ESPN it remains a priority for the L.A. front office to fill the roster with other reliable centers. So Davis wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the position during the tough regular season.
The Lakers drafted Gasol in 2007, but his rights were traded in Memphis for his brother, Pau, before playing an NBA game.
At the Lakers, Gasol wants to win his second NBA championship. He earned his first victory with the Raptors two seasons ago after Toronto offloaded him from the Grizzlies in a midseason swap. Gasol made most of the time of the first 10 seasons of his career with Memphis and was one of the founders of the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies, which took the franchise to new heights.
Gasol, the defensive player of the year 2012-13, remains a formidable player on that side of the floor. The Raptors conceded a low 98.9 points per 100 assets when Gasol took the field last season.
With his days as an attacking fulcrum behind him, the 35-year-old delivered an average of 3.3 assists in 26.4 minutes per game last season as he stretched the floor as an efficient shooter, at 3 points on a good number of tries.
However, Gasol struggled to stay on the pitch during the playoffs, which could sign that Father Time is catching up with the 12-year veteran.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.