The Los Angeles Lakers will be an attractive destination for players if they can sign LeBron James. And if they can also add Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, adding solid complementary pieces will be even easier.
If Los Angeles can bring in stars, they will have their pick of quality veterans to round out their rotation. Several such players told our own Alex Kennedy that they would be interested in settling for a minimum deal with Los Angeles.
The Lakers are already attractive given their market size and nationally televised games. With star power that would all but guarantee a playoff spot, many free agents will give them strong consideration (even if other teams are offering more money).
Especially because the market is very dry this summer, few teams have significant cap space. So many free agents will be forced to sign for less than they anticipated.
Don’t be surprised if some players sign a one-year deal and enter free agency again next summer, when more teams project to have cap space and the salary cap is expected to rise. Some of the bad contracts handed out in 2016 (when the cap drastically increased thanks to the NBA’s new TV deal) will start to come off the books next offseason.
After waiving point guard Tyler Ennis on Thursday evening, there will be a hole to fill at backup point guard behind Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers will be appealing, particularly if they’re in win-now mode since players will be able to showcase their game on a big stage. L.A. should be able to offer incoming players plenty of minutes, especially if the front office moves young talent like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and/or Josh Hart in a trade for Leonard.
Also, depending on what moves the Lakers make, it’s very possible that Brook Lopez (UFA), Julius Randle (RFA) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (UFA) will also be gone. Lopez, Randle and Caldwell-Pope all played a significant role for Los Angeles last season, starting a combined 195 games.
In addition to finding a reserve point guard, the Lakers will need to bring in other big men besides Thomas Bryant and Ivika Zubac to strengthen their frontcourt.
They’d also need scoring off the bench, and there are several free agents who would jump at an opportunity to have this kind of prominent role on a team like the Lakers.
If free agents have to take less because the market is awful, they might as well join a star-studded team that all eyes will be on when the 2018-19 season tips off.
Alex Kennedy contributed to this report.