It is well-known throughout the NBA that the Lakers will have a nice amount of cap space this upcoming offseason even with the new $48.5 million contract of Kobe Bryant on the books. What is unclear is the direction the team may be looking to go in.
Will the Lakers attempt to make a splash by adding a big name free agent such as Carmelo Anthony? In previous weeks, the Lakers and the 29-year-old small forward have been linked, saying it was an obvious pairing, but yesterday Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD noted that the interest from the Lakers may not be as high as originally thought.
“For weeks its been Anthony and the LA Lakers talked about as a likely pairing, however insiders doubted that the Lakers would make Anthony a max-level contract offer.”
While Anthony is the most likely big name free agent to come to the Lakers, I can see why the team may not want to head in that direction. Pairing a soon to be 30-year-old Anthony along with a 36-year-old Kobe may not exactly scream championship with a lack of financial ability to add more quality pieces around those two. Anthony has an opt out clause after this season but there is a chance he could opt in if traded during this season.
Although, I would not call this situation dead in any sense. Anthony considers Kobe to be an older brother and mentor entering the league. The relationship could ultimately drive the Lakers to add Anthony this offseason which would bring excitement back to Staples Center for the purple and gold and give the team a dynamic scoring duo. One other question that needs to be asked, what is the relationship between Anthony and coach Mike D’Antoni? It was reportedly anything but good in New York and that could play a big factor in any decision moving forward.
The other direction the team could go in is to use the money on quality role players that would allow them to go into the 2015 offseason with a chance of adding a player like Kevin Love, if he decides to opt out of his respective contract. While there are many options this offseason, Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD wondered if soon-to be free agent Luol Deng would consider the Lakers this offseason and even posed the question to Deng to which he responded:
“When the summer comes, I can probably answer that,” Deng told HOOPSWORLD. “To be honest with you I’ve done my best – I’ve been in a contract situation before when I was young and it affected me. This year, during the summer, I told myself that no matter what, I’m just going to be in the gym working. … I don’t know what it’s like in any other locker room or any other organization — maybe it’s better, maybe it’s not. I have no complaints with how blessed and how lucky I’ve been to be in such an organization for 10 years. Not a lot people could say that. I don’t know if the grass is greener. Maybe it is, but my grass is green enough.”
Deng would be a nice piece to the puzzle for the Lakers and wouldn’t command a max contract on the market. In his career, the Sudan born forward has averaged 16.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg while also playing excellent perimeter defense. The concern with Deng is his history of injuries over recent seasons although that could help the Lakers in negotiations if it gets to that point.
There will be plenty of names linked to the Lakers over the next two seasons. As we get closer to the end of the season, the plan for the Lakers to return to relevancy in the NBA will be clearer. How the Lakers execute the plan will be the interesting part but as we’ve seen in the past, this franchise will find a way.