Enter Wesley Matthews.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 20, 2020
A $3.6 million salary would fit into the bi-annual exception ($3,623,000). However, using the bi-annual exception would hard-cap the Lakers.
The Lakers could also sign Matthews through the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000), which would allow them to build a higher payroll absent hard-cap restrictions. For reference, though: The remaining portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception would be less than the minimum for anyone with at least seven years experience.
So, it seems most likely the Lakers will pay Matthews with the bi-annual exception and use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9,258,000) on other free agents. But the Lakers could always wait to decide the mechanism for officially signing Matthews until they have more information.
Accepting a hard cap could make it more difficult to re-sign Caldwell Pope. But Matthews would be a solid cheaper replacement. Though he has decline risk at age 34, he played well for Milwaukee last season. Mathews is a good perimeter defender and capable 3-point shooter.