The Los Angeles Lakers made their first splash of the offseason when they drafted Julius Randle with the 7th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Now they have to chance to make an even bigger splash in free agency.
The Lakers are poised to be major players this free agency season. It all starts with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers GM, has made it clear that he will do anything it takes to bring James and Anthony to Los Angeles. James is obviously the big fish here. It is unlikely that James would come to Los Angeles to play with Kobe Bryant; however, it will not prevent Kupchak from reaching out to James’ representation. In fact, Kupchak and the Lakers have already reached out to the agents of James, Anthony, and Chris Bosh. It is likely that Kupchak will sit down with Anthony on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Once the James/Anthony dominos fall, free agency will really open up. If the Lakers fail to reel in Anthony or James, they will move on to Chris Bosh, whom the organization covets. Bosh is looking for a 5-year deal in the range of $15-16M per season.
The Lakers are in a unique position due to the fact that they are one of seven teams with over $10M in cap space this summer. As it stands right now the Lakers have three players under contract: Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre. If you throw in Randle, who will make around $3M this season, and second round pick Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers will have approximately $37.5 million devoted to five players. With the salary cap expected to jump to around $63.2M, a $5M increase, the Lakers will have just over $22M to devote to filling out the roster. However, they can increase that number to $28M if they use the stretch provision on Nash, or $32M if they find a trade partner for Nash.
There is no doubt that the Lakers will be major players this summer. The team has already expressed interest in a number of other free agents. Look for the Lakers to contact the following players in the coming days:
- Kyle Lowry
- Greg Monroe
- Trevor Ariza
- Luol Deng
- Lance Stephenson
- Eric Bledsoe
- Paul Pierce (WHEELCHAIR!)
- Isaiah Thomas
The team is also interested in retaining a couple of their own free agents. Kupchak has expressed his desire to bring back Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, and Kent Bazemore. However, the Lakers would like to go after the big fish first before turning their attention to their own free agents. Gasol is the most intriguing option here. The Lakers will likely meet with Gasol in the coming weeks to discuss his future with the team; however, they will not extend an offer until the James/Anthony situation is resolved.
NBA free agency is officially open! Let the rumors fly and let the Wojbombs drop!