'Mamba mentality' runs deep in Cleveland-bound Clarkson, Nance


"I wouldn't have made the move if I wasn't confident", Magic Johnson said.

Bryant saluted his former teammates for their time with the Lakers.

There are plenty of bad contracts in the National Basketball Association, from New York's Joakim Noah to Memphis' Chandler Parsons, but Luol Deng's four-year, $72 million deal with the Lakers is arguably the worst in the league.

That faith was well-placed, even at the cost of Nance, expendable with the emergence of rookie Kyle Kuzma.

Clarkson and Nance were traded Thursday to the Cavaliers in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye.

That may be too much to ask, but that's not why the Lakers made the deal. The Lakers could potentially sign two of the aforementioned players to maximum-level contracts.

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Reporter: Did you guys have any substantive conversations that would have gotten you off of the Deng contract?

One option is to use the stretch provision to stretch out his remaining salary over the next five seasons at $7.4 million a year.

The Lakers will also get Channing Frye, who should help space the floor for Lonzo Ball who thrives off finding the open player. "I don't want to be on the outside of the playoffs looking in", Johnson said. Clarkson is owed $25.9 million over the next two seasons. Randle, as a small-ball option, would probably want to gauge the free-agent market before committing to that salary, which could get in the way of the Lakers' timing.

While the trade looks to strengthen the Cleveland Cavaliers' playoff and possibly NBA Finals' chances, the Los Angeles Lakers have its fair share of bright prospects.

Or the team could let Randle leave and instead re-sign Caldwell-Pope, Lopez or another free agent altogether. Better yet, should the Lakers still try to march past the regular season now that they have the #Cleveland Cavaliers' 2018 first round draft pick? Would that be enough to keep Lopez or Caldwell-Pope? The Lakers now project to have $46.9M in room this summer.

Johnson said he has been impressed with the team's recent progress - the Lakers have won seven of their past nine and 11 of 15 - and plans to add to the young group of talent to create a contender moving forward. "And then, of course, the obvious way is we now have in July of 2018 and July of 2019, we now have real 100 percent space to do two max players if that's what we decide to do, or one in 2018 and then following it up with another one in 2019". We have to take another step, right?