In recent years, the Los Angeles Lakers front office has repeatedly struck out in free agency. But things could be different in the forthcoming off-season.
Over the last two seasons, the Lakers failed to recruit superstars such as Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge despite extravagant presentations and the active involvement of Kobe Bryant.
Stop dreaming of Durant…
This June, it’s almost a guarantee that they will strike out again in their pursuit of Kevin Durant. One can’t help but reckon that Lakers approached the last Free Agency without a concrete plan. While they were busy going after superstars, the Lakers let quality two-tier players sign with other teams.
Why didn’t they go after a wings such as DeMarre Caroll, Arron Afflalo and Monta Ellis? After passing up on Jahlil Okafor on draft night, shouldn’t they have aggressively pursued big men not named DeAndre Jordan or Greg Monroe? Why didn’t they throw a max offer sheet at Tobias Harris? Orlando Magic wouldn’t have dared match the offer since Harris is not considered a max-worthy player.
Lakers will once again have abundant cap space this summer. They should exert less energy on trying to acquire Durant and pursue the likes of Nicolas Batum, DeMar Derozan, Hassan Whiteside and Joakim Noah. But those four players are all-stars or fringe all-stars, too.
Let’s look at this realistically. Pat Riley will leave no stone unturned to try and re-sign Whiteside. DeRozan will most likely stay back in Toronto. Noah is the only one expected to leave Chicago.
Ideally, the Lakers need to enter Free Agency with a back-up plan which includes players such as Evan Turner, Courtney Lee, Mirza Teletovic, Marvin Williams and Luol Deng. They could also try to pry restricted free agents such as Harrison Barnes and/or Festus Ezeli from the Golden State Warriors.
But the key is to negotiate with the aforementioned two and three-tier players while still trying to acquire the likes of DeRozan, Batum and Whiteside. It’s not wise to put all their eggs in one basket.
The‘superstar mentality is what makes Lakers the Lakers. But it’s time for the franchise to realize it’s a better option to surround D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle with solid, veteran talent.
Besides the backcourt and the four spot, which are likely set for years to come, the Lakers need help at every other position. They still need a veteran Point Guard to mentor Russell and Clarkson. However, their biggest requirements are at the 5 and 3 spots.
Kobe’s departure will help…
This isn’t going to sit well with diehard Laker fans. But Kobe Bryant’s exit will significantly boast the team’s chances of landing a quality player or two. It’s no secret that players have feared coming to L.A. at the risk of being overshadowed by Bryant.
Last July, Forbes published an article highlighting the primary reason for free agents to stay away from the Lakers. To quote from the article: “For free agents, interested in pursuing deep playoff runs, like Aldridge, the roster doesn’t tempt them to sign on. Even more problematic, the Lakers’ one star, Kobe Bryant, is now a liability, not an asset.”
Here’s hoping the Lakers front office enters Free Agency with a solid plan instead of filling their legion of fans with false hopes of landing superstars Kevin Durant or DeMar DeRozan.