The Lakers' summer league squad will begin play in Las Vegas on July 11, but will the team's first-round pick, Julius Randle, be available to participate?
After the franchise selected Randle with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft on Thursday, General Manager Mitch Kupchak said he wasn't sure.
"We don't know yet," said Kupchak. "The summer league starts a day or two after the moratorium ends, so it depends on if we get him signed in time."
While teams can start negotiating with free agents on July 1, the NBA goes into an annual moratorium to analyze the league's finances and set the salary cap.
If the Lakers intend to maximize their cap space, they'll need to wait on signing Randle until after locking in whatever free agent haul they can manage to land.
By the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Randle's rookie scale contract starts at $2,497,800 this coming season -- the amount of cap space he'll take up, even before he signs a contract with the team.
Teams have the leeway to sign first-round picks to a range of 80% to 120% of their scale, but it's customary to pay the latter -- especially for a player in the top 10 like Randle.
Once signed, Randle will likely earn $2,997,360, a bump of $499,560 over his scale amount.
The Lakers may need that extra half-million in spending power when looking to rebuild a team that won just 27 games last season.
The issue is timing. Randle will sign, but he may need to wait until the Lakers spend -- which could mean no summer league.
Randle's foot is not the cause of uncertainty, according to Kupchak.
"He had surgery about 18 months ago. He's been cleared," he said. "We will monitor it going forward. With any injury, there's always the possibility that it could be reinjured."
At some point, Randle may need to get a screw removed from his right foot, put in to heal a high school injury, but Kupchak said he didn't expect a procedure this off-season.
The Lakers project to have up to $23 million in cap space this summer, more if they can find a way out of Steve Nash's $9.7-million contract.
Among the top free agents are LeBron James (Miami Heat) and Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); either might be able to fit within the Lakers' cap room --presuming they choose to leave their respective teams.
If the Lakers are unable to lure their top choices in free agency, they may opt to give out short contracts to preserve spending power for next summer.
Even if that is the case, that decision may not be made in time for Randle to play on the summer roster.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times