Basketball / NBA

Lakers trading three players to Wizards to clear salary cap space

AP, AFP-JIJI

The Los Angeles Lakers’ price tag for Anthony Davis got a little steeper on Thursday, with the tradeoff being that the team now has the flexibility to bring another max-contract star to play alongside him and LeBron James next season.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told AP that the Lakers will send Moritz Wagner, Issac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones and a future second-round pick to the Washington Wizards as part of the deal that will bring Davis to Los Angeles.

The Wizards will send cash to the New Orleans Pelicans in the deal, said the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement cannot be finalized until July 6.

The trade was first reported by ESPN, and the cash element was first reported by The Washington Post.

Shedding those contracts — along with Davis waiving his $4 million trade kicker, as ESPN reported — will give the Lakers enough cap space to sign a max player, if they are so inclined.

They could also spread that cap space out among multiple players, which could be the more prudent move considering the Lakers have virtually an entire roster to fill.

Once this trade is executed, the Lakers will have only James, Davis and Kyle Kuzma under contract for next season, not counting a pair of restricted free agents.

The Lakers agreed earlier this month to acquire Davis from New Orleans for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round draft picks — one of them being De’Andre Hunter, who was chosen by the Lakers on draft night and will then be traded to New Orleans and flipped from there to the Atlanta Hawks.

Thursday’s agreement means six players and four picks were the price the Lakers paid for Davis. It technically is not a 10-for-1 move, because the newfound cap space will bring at least one other player to Los Angeles.

Wagner, Jones and Bonga were rookies last season. Wagner averaged 4.8 points in 43 games, Jones scored a total of 27 points in six games and Bonga scored 19 points in 22 appearances with the Lakers.

Meanwhile, James will give up his No. 23 jersey to new Davis, who will sacrifice a trade bonus to help finance NBA free agency moves, ESPN reported Thursday.

James has worn No. 23 during both stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and with the Lakers last season after he departed his hometown club a year ago in free agency.

Davis wore No. 23 for seven seasons while playing for the Pelicans.

Citing unnamed sources, ESPN said James will return to wearing the No. 6 jersey he used while winning his first two NBA crowns during a four-season stint with the Miami Heat.

Photos from the set of “Space Jam 2” — a sequel to the 1996 film starring NBA legend Michael Jordan and animated cartoon icon Bugs Bunny — show James wearing a No. 6 jersey.