The Los Angeles Lakers made sweeping changes to the roster at the trade deadline that accomplished multiple things. Not only did the team get more talented, but the team got younger and did so without sending that many assets out.
The Lakers brought in D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba and Rui Hachimura. It was the injection of youth that this team needed and the results have followed.
With there still being the natural speculation of the team pursuing Kyrie Irving because of his relationship with LeBron James, the long-term future of these young players may seem unclear. However, based on recent reports, it looks like Rob Pelinka and co. are prioritizing the young talent on the roster.
Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports talked to NBA executives about LA’s moves and how it could be setting up the team’s future. It appears, according to these executives, that LA is not planning on letting any of these young players walk.
"“That’s a base of young players that they did not have before, you know, guys who are mid-20s (in age). They’re going to keep those guys in place. They’re all in on paying those guys.”"
NBA rumors: Lakers young core may be in place for years to come.
While the team still has the ability to make some tweaks to the roster over the summer, it appears that this is going to be the supporting cast that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will have next season as well.
The only new member of the young core that is 100% locked in for next season is Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt has one more year under contract and will make $4.68 million next season. That is tremendous value for what Vanderbilt brings to the table.
Malik Beasley has a club option for the 2023-24 season worth $16.5 million. That is a hefty price for Beasley, admittedly, but if he can hit shots down the stretch and heat up then the Lakers would seemignly rather retain him than risk letting him walk just to try and get a cheaper price.
Mo Bamba is under contract for one more year at a $10.3 million cap hit. However, next year’s salary is non-guaranteed, so Los Angeles could get out of it if they do not view Bamba as part of the young core moving forward.
Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell are the two players with the biggest question marks surrounding their futures. Hachimura is a restricted free agent while Russell is an unrestricted free agent.
Los Angeles has Bird Rights on both players so the team can legally bring both players back. However, it would result in the team going over the luxury tax again, which is not something that ownership has seemed interested in doing.
If the team is serious about retaining this young core then the luxury tax bill won’t matter. However, money talks, so we fans will have to wait and see what this team is really prioritizing.