The Los Angeles Lakers signed 10 players on minimum wage contracts this offseason, and understandably, not all of them worked. While players like Malik Monk and Austin Reaves have thrived in their low-cost roles, others, like DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore, have proven why they are available for the minimum in the first place. As the trade deadline approaches and the Lakers are unwilling to dedicate places to players they don’t use, the team are considering moving Jordan and / or Bazemore in an effort to free up places, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
The Lakers have already made such a decision when they traded Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The spot on the roster created by this move will apparently be taken by Stanley Johnson, who managed a stint with the team on a 10-day contract. However, if the Lakers plan to be active in the buyout market or in trades until the deadline, they will need additional flexibility. Trader Jordan or Bazemore would help them get it.
Technically, the Lakers could just forgo one or both of these layers, but that would let them pay not only their wages, but the taxes that go with them as well. A workaround would be to swap those players for teams with empty seats and send money to those teams to pay off their contract balances in the process. Those teams could then give up Jordan or Bazemore without too much trouble, assuming they weren’t subject to the luxury tax.
Avery Bradley’s contract guarantees the season Friday (January 7). The Lakers are likely to keep him, although they can give him up on creating another spot if they wish without having to pay him more money. Bradley has become a key player for them, however, he will likely stay with the team in the future.
Jordan and Bazemore, on the other hand, are completely out of the rotation. The Lakers would surely prefer to leave some slots open in case a playable wing or center hits the buyout market. Swapping out one or both of these players could get them that spot at minimal cost, so naturally, they explore every avenue possible to make a deal.