Report: Lakers being linked to 2 players following LeBron’s team-first move

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers could make an important addition to their roster after superstar LeBron James took a slight discount while re-signing with the franchise.

According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Shams Charania, the Lakers could open up the $5.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception by dumping a couple of veteran minimum contracts, which would give them a chance to add a player like Gary Trent Jr. or Spencer Dinwiddie.

“LeBron James is taking a nearly $3 million discount to keep the Los Angeles Lakers under the dreaded second apron,” Buha and Charania wrote. “James is signing a two-year, $101.355 million deal instead of the two-year, $104 million maximum he could’ve re-signed for, according to league sources.

“Along with his player option and a no-trade clause, James’ contract also includes a 15 percent trade kicker, those sources said.

“James’ new contract puts the Lakers at just under the $188.9 million second apron. 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.

“Gary Trent Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie are two names to watch for if the Lakers clear enough space to use their taxpayer midlevel exception, according to league sources.”

Dinwiddie spent the end of the 2023-24 season with the Lakers after he was bought out by the Toronto Raptors following a trade deadline move that sent him from the Brooklyn Nets to Toronto.

The veteran guard appeared in 28 games for the Lakers in the regular season, making four starts. He averaged 6.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 39.7 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point range.

Overall in the 2023-24 season, Dinwiddie averaged 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.

The former second-round pick could make sense as an option for Los Angeles, especially if it considers moving on from D’Angelo Russell or Gabe Vincent in a trade to improve the roster elsewhere. Dinwiddie is a proven point guard that could pick up minutes as a starter or off the bench in Los Angeles.

Trent is also an intriguing option as a 3-and-D presence on the wing. During the 2023-24 season for the Raptors, Trent averaged 13.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

A career 38.6 percent 3-point shooter, Trent would be a solid off-ball option in lineups with Anthony Davis and James, as he can space the floor and is a shooter that opposing defenses have to respect.

Trent has carved out a nice career in the NBA, playing for the Portland Trail Blazers and Raptors since being selected in the second round in the 2018 NBA Draft.

It will be interesting to see how the Lakers proceed when making the finishing touches to their roster this offseason.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.