NBA Free Agency: Los Angeles Lakers Preview
What Happened Last Season
The Los Angeles Lakers had a forgettable season as they went 26-56, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season. It’s safe to say the rebuilding stages after the Kobe era has been slow.
The young cornerstone pieces of Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson all shown flashes of brilliance, but it wasn’t enough to stay competitive with some of the best in the league. Former #2 pick Brandon Ingram struggled mightily in his rookie season. Oh, and long-time General Manager Mitch Kupchak and President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss was fired.
With new management and the return of Laker legend Magic Johnson as the President of Basketball Operations, things are starting to look promising.
The Lakers’ deficiency was pretty clear. They were terrible on defense. Opposing teams licked their chops and scored at will against the Lakers, being ranked as the worst team in the NBA in defensive efficiency last season, giving up 110.6 points per 100 possessions. It’s pretty obvious getting perimeter defenders is one of the top priorities this off season for newcomer General Manager Rob Pelinka.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Nick Young, Metta World Peace, Tyler Ennis, Thomas Robinson
David Nwaba, Tarik Black
Cap Space: $-5,452,342
Potential Cap Space: $19,605,213
*Courtesy of Spotrac
Thabo Sefolosha – The Lakers are in dire need for some perimeter defense on the wings. Thabo finished No. 35 in ESPN.com's defensive real plus/minus (DRPM), regardless of position. With length and the ability to guard multiple positions, Thabo has the tools and track record to be the “3 and D” guy for LA. At 33 years old, Sefolosha may be signed for a cheap, multi-year deal.
It would be a huge signing for the Lakers if they were to ink up Sefolosha.
Darren Collison – Collison becomes expendable with De’Aaron Fox now in Sacramento. Also, the Lakers shipped out D’Angelo Russell, meaning the only back-up point guards are Jordan Clarkson and rookie PJ Dozier, assuming they let Tyler Ennis walk this summer. Getting a veteran and play-make in Collison to bring Lonzo Ball up to speed can be a good signing.
Omri Casspi – Casspi was never himself in the 2016-2017 season, thanks to being with 3 different teams during the year. But during the 2015-2016 season with the Kings, Casspi averaged 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from downtown. The Lakers are desperate for some shooting, highlighted by one of the priorities in Rob Pelinka’s recent press conference. Casspi can be looking at a cheap deal to reignite his career.
The Lakers are not planning to go after the big names this summer. They don’t think this year’s free agency featuring Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Gordon Hayward, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin are names that fits with their future plans. Of course, KD and Steph are not leaving the Bay.
The Lakers, do have big plans in mind. They are conserving cap space to go after next summer’s free agency, featuring LeBron James, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins. LA is banking on the fact they have the flexibility to sign 2 major free agents to join their squad next summer. Whether or not you agree this is just wishful thinking, don’t underestimate the stature of the great Magic Johnson.