When it was originally reported that the Lakers had agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of my first thoughts was “that is more money than they have in cap space”. Well, it turns out, in order to get closer to that amount the team was going to have to clear a little bit of salary.
That happened today when the team announced they’d waived David Nwaba. Nwaba’s contract for next season was just picked before the start of free agency, but his salary for next season was actually not guaranteed if he was waived before January 10, 2018 according to Eric Pincus at Basketball Insiders. This gave the team some wiggle room to execute a move just like this one, should they need a hair of extra cap space to give to a free agent.
The question now, however, is whether Nwaba will be back on the team soon should he clear waivers. Again, here’s Pincus, via twitter:
If you need any of that translated, it’s pretty simple: by cutting Nwaba, the Lakers open up about $500K in cap space they will give KCP (pushing his deal to about $17.7 million). The team can also use “cap space” to sign Thomas Bryant to a deal longer than 2 seasons, and then, if Nwaba clears waivers the Lakers can simply re-sign him to the same deal he was on before.
That last part is where the risk is. I don’t know how much interest Nwaba has league wide, but he’s essentially on a minimum contract and, to me at least, has shown he belongs on an NBA roster. Remember, the Lakers did this exact thing with Kendall Marshall three years ago in order to open up the cap space that was used, for among other things, to bid on the recently amnestied Carlos Boozer. The Lakers had interest in bringing Marshall back too, but he did not clear waivers and the team never got their chance.
My hope, though, is that Nwaba clears waivers and is indeed brought back. I like him as a player — his defensive ability, competitive spirit, and character as a teammate are all things to be valued and are good additions to any roster/locker room. We’ll keep you posted in the coming days with any information that breaks on Nwaba.