New No. 23 for Lakers next season

LeBron James will give up his No. 23 jersey to new Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, who will join them in exchange for players and a draft pick. Davis will also sacrifice a trade bonus.
LeBron James will give up his No. 23 jersey to new Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, who will join them in exchange for players and a draft pick. Davis will also sacrifice a trade bonus. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Lakers will have a new No. 23 next season and the capability to sign a third marquee player.

According to people familiar with the deal, the National Basketball Association team have reworked the terms of the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, sending reserves Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards, along with their 2022 second-round draft pick on Thursday.

The moves, along with Davis' waiver of his US$4 million (S$5.4 million) trade bonus, will earn the Lakers an extra US$8 million in salary cap space that was not negotiated into the original deal to which the Pelicans agreed on June 15.

Consequently, the Lakers are expected to have about US$32 million to spend in free agency, which should be enough to sign another player on a maximum contract.

It also gives them more cash to spread among lower-tier free agents, should they fail to receive a commitment from one of the top free agents in this year's class.

Meanwhile, their new centre has received a little gift from his fellow All-Star teammate.

LeBron James has agreed to give up the No. 23 that he has worn for most of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers.

The forward last wore No. 6 while with the Miami Heat and he alluded to the change, tweeting a prayer emoji alongside the number.

Free agency officially opens tomorrow and, according to reports, the NBA Finals' Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard plans to meet the Lakers but will reserve his final meeting for the Toronto Raptors, with whom he won the title.

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker is also in line for a maximum contract, and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Boston Celtics are expected to make the All-Star a four-year, US$141 million contract offer that he will likely accept.

He would be the direct replacement for fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving, who is expected to sign elsewhere, with the Brooklyn Nets mooted as a possible destination.

The New York Knicks have also been mentioned as another suitor. But, should they not land any of their three targets along with Leonard and Kevin Durant, the team will then look to land DeMarcus Cousins, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'New No. 23 for Lakers next season'. Print Edition | Subscribe