Los Angeles Lakers, Gary Trent Jr.

Los Angeles Lakers, Gary Trent Jr.


Austin Reaves gets stripped by Gary Trent

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on July 7 that LeBron James is taking a nearly $3 million pay cut from his contract. James could’ve signed a two-year, $104 million deal but will instead sign for two years, $101.35 million. That brings the Los Angeles Lakers below the second apron and gives them more flexibility if they’re willing to dump salary.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers could be able to use the $5.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception if they make moves.

“James’ new contract puts the Lakers at about $187.3 million in salary — or roughly $1.6 million under the $188.9 million second apron,” Buha wrote on July 7.

“If the Lakers can salary dump a couple of their veteran minimum contracts — attaching a second-round pick to entice a trade partner — they’d create two roster spots and the flexibility to use the $5.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The Lakers have preferred to enter previous seasons with only 14 players on their roster for flexibility in trades and on the buyout market.”

If they get access to the taxpayer midlevel expectation, Buha wrote that Gary Trent Jr. is a “name to watch.”

Why It’s Important for the Lakers Not to Be a Second Apron Team

Avoiding the second apron is something that teams around the NBA are looking to do. The second apron brings challenges to roster building, especially for a team like the Los Angeles Lakers.

If the Lakers were to be a second-apron team, they wouldn’t have been able to trade first-round picks seven years in the future, can’t trade cash-in deals, and much more.

“Had the Lakers become a second-apron team, they would’ve suffered several harsh restrictions regarding how they’d be able to build their roster for the rest of this offseason,” Buha wrote.

“For example, teams above the second apron cannot trade first-round picks seven years in the future, cannot trade cash in a deal, lose their midlevel exception, are limited to 100 percent salary-matching in trades and cannot combine multiple players in a deal, among several other restrictions.”

Instead, due to James taking a slight pay cut, the Lakers only have to deal with the first-apron restrictions, which are far easier to navigate.

“But with James accepting a slight reduction, the Lakers are only limited to first-apron restrictions, which include not being able to acquire a player via sign-and-trade, not being able to use more than the taxpayer midlevel exception (worth approximately $5.2 million), not being allowed to use a pre-existing trade exception or taking back additional salary in a trade, among several other restrictions,” Buha wrote.

How Gary Trent Jr. Would Fit the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers’ lack of spending power makes it tough for them to land an impact player, but Trent still remains on the market and could potentially be just that. He averaged 18.3 points just three seasons ago, shooting 38.3% from 3-point range on 7.8 attempts per game that season.

That was the best scoring season of his career.

Coming off the bench in 41 of the 71 games he played for the Toronto Raptors this past year, Trent averaged 13.7 points and shot 39.3% from 3-point range on 6.4 attempts per contest.

After the Lakers attempted the fewest 3-point shots in the NBA, Trent would add another player who could take six-plus 3-pointers per game.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports also reported on July 1 that the Brooklyn Nets are open to trading for D’Angelo Russell. Moving Russell and replacing him with Trent would give the Lakers a similar look. It would also allow the Lakers to move his $18.7 million contract and bring in a different player who fits their needs in a trade.

Jon Conahan covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. Since 2019, his sports coverage has appeared at Sports Illustrated, oddschecker, ClutchPoints and Sportskeeda. More about Jon Conahan

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