Free agency headlines prove Lakers aren't missing much with limited cap space

The Los Angeles Lakers lack the resources to make a splash in free agency. In 2024, it's becoming clear that limited mobility isn't the worst-case scenario.
New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers
New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of an offseason that has some wishing for greater resources. Every struggle requires context, however, and the Lakers' lack of cap space is being put into perspective by a period of free agency that's hardly created a feeling of regret.

A surplus of high-quality players have signed new contracts this summer, but it's fair to argue that none would've necessarily moved the needle for the Lakers at the rates they were paid.

Los Angeles kicked free agency off by re-signing Max Christie to a four-year, $32 million deal. It was written off early on as something of an overpay, but in the 24 hours since it was announced, the Lakers' logic is becoming easier to understand.

Los Angeles entered the 2024 period of free agency with limited cap flexibility, and general manager Rob Pelinka intends to avoid actual overpays via sign-and-trade in favor of building upon what already exists.

It would've been wonderful to see the Lakers add the talent of a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Isaiah Hartenstein, or Jonas Valančiūnas variety. It would've been a dream to add a Paul George, a James Harden, or a Tyrese Maxey to a roster that already has Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

The reality, however, is that the Lakers lacking the financial flexibility to make something happen in free agency was the proverbial blessing in disguise.

Sometimes, what you don't add is as important as what you do

In the case of Maxey, the arguable best free agent on the open market, he was a restricted free agent. No matter what the Lakers offered, the 76ers were going to match it—much as the Clippers weren't going to lose both George and Harden.

Adding any one of those three players would've made for a captivating fit, but their salaries would've hard-capped the Lakers and prevented them from adding anything else.

Furthermore, having that cap space would've meant losing some of the depth that would've been necessary to help a trio of Davis, James, and a potential free agent contend. If the 2024-25 season proved anything, it's that a team without depth is destined to fail in the playoffs.

It could've been slightly cheaper to go all-in on a Harris or a Hartenstein level player, but the Lakers' limited cap space with both Davis and James maxed out would've led to the same result.

Instead, Los Angeles is prioritizing the development of its young core while simultaneously attempting to complement Davis and James. That commitment to a youth movement that remains in the spirit of immediate success is what could help the Lakers finally make the shift from instant gratification to sustained success.

All eyes remain on the Lakers and their potential use of the mid-level exception, but at this stage of free agency, the Lakers have dodged the proverbial bullet.