2020 Los Angeles Lakers’ Free Agent Targets
With no time available to rest on their laurels, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers need to get better. While a championship can cover many shortcomings that a team has, the 2019-2020 Lakers were far from perfect. Consistent perimeter shooting and guard playmaking eluded them for most of the season, and only came together during the final stretch of the playoffs.
As he enters into his 18th NBA season, LeBron James is going to need an extra set of hands to facilitate the offense. Moreover, the Lakers hung their hat on defense throughout the season and especially in the playoffs, and will look to keep that part of their identity intact. With a near full mid-level exception available to them, as well as multiple minimum salaries they can offer, the Lakers will look to emerge from the offseason even better than they entered it. Here’s who they should pursue in free agency.
With Javale McGee opting into his contract for the upcoming season and Dwight Howard yet to re-sign, the Lakers have a backup center spot available. Serge Ibaka perfectly fits the defensive personality of the team and can even stretch the floor and hit from three. With Anthony Davis at the power forward position and Ibaka at the center position, the Lakers will be a defensive nightmare in the paint and will have a shooting threat at all 5 spots.
The Lakers need consistent 3-point shooting, and Danilo Gallinari fits the bill. He shot 40.5% percent from three last year. But beyond the shooting, Gallinari is capable of getting his own shot in the post. The Lakers relied far too heavily on LeBron for points last year, both as a scorer and a facilitator. Having someone who is capable of getting his own shot will be a huge relief for LeBron, who is going to have to choose where he exerts himself during the regular season.
Jerami Grant had a breakout stretch during the playoffs last year, especially in the Nuggets series against the Lakers. With his ability to attack the rim and finish, the Lakers ended up needing to double him in the post. Rajon Rondo’s willingness to attack the rim in the playoffs really put pressure on defenses that already had to account for LeBron and Davis. A bigger player like Grant who finishes at the rim better than Rondo will be an unwelcome sight for any defense that has to face the Lakers.
Danny Green’s streaky 3-point shooting was mesmerizing and infuriating all throughout the season. Wesley Matthews provides much more reliable shooting from the perimeter. On top of that, with Avery Bradley opting out, the Lakers are going to need a good individual defender against smaller guards. Matthews isn’t making any All-Defense teams, but he found a lot of defense success against attacking guards in the half court last year.
After signing with the Lakers in the 2019 offseason, DeMarcus Cousins never suited up due to a torn ACL. Cousins was a fan favorite, despite not seeing the floor. The Lakers should bring him back. Cousins likely won’t be demanding more than the veterans’ minimum he signed last season, so the door is open for a second chance with the Lakers. Cousins can stretch the floor, and had a nice stint next to Davis during their time in New Orleans. There is a lot of upside to Cousins, and not much downside. The Lakers should go for it.