The Los Angeles Lakers signed 10 players to minimum salary contracts this offseason, and naturally, not all of them have worked out. 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 were available for the minimum in the first place. With the trade deadline approaching and the Lakers unwilling to devote roster spots to players they aren’t using, the team is looking into moving Jordan and/or Bazemore for the sake of clearing roster spots, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The Lakers have already made one such move by trading Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The roster spot that move created will ostensibly be filled by Stanley Johnson, who had a successful stint with the team on a 10-day contract. However, if the Lakers plan to be active on the buyout market or in trades leading up to the deadline, they’ll need to have some extra flexibility. Trading Jordan or Bazemore would help them get it.
Technically, the Lakers could simply waive one or both of those players, but doing so would leave them to pay not only their salaries, but the tax payments that come along with them. A workaround would be to trade those players to teams with empty roster spots and send those teams cash to pay the balance of their contracts in the process. Those teams could then waive Jordan or Bazemore without as much pain, assuming they are not in the luxury tax.
Avery Bradley’s contract guarantees for the season on Friday (Jan. 7). The Lakers are likely to keep him, though they could waive him to create another spot if they wish without having to pay him any more money. Bradley has become a key role player for them, though, so he will likely remain with the team moving forward.
Jordan and Bazemore, on the other hand, have fallen out of the rotation entirely. The Lakers would surely prefer to leave slots open in case a playable wing or center hits the buyout market. Trading one or both of those players could get them that spot at minimal cost, so naturally, they are exploring all possible avenues to getting a deal done.