According to Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the LA Times, the Lakers’ plan back to prominence is slowly becoming clearer, but fans might need to wait one more season until that plan starts to take shape.
“The Lakers are not interested in possible free agent Carmelo Anthony, who claims he won’t break the New York Knicks’ bank to stay with them.”
The summer of 2014 was supposed to when the Lakers made a big splash in their attempt to become an NBA title contender again, but from the sound things, it is possible the team will look to 2015 to get the ball rolling.
But there is one scenario where the Lakers could make an impact this summer and that is if LeBron James opts-out of his contract and decides to enter free agency.
“If LeBron James opts out of his contract, they’ll make a phone call, but it’s a longshot he’ll leave Miami for the Lakers.”
If that scenario does not happen, why would the Lakers look to 2015?
“They do like Cleveland forward Luol Deng but don’t want to overpay for him this summer, meaning their eyes are firmly on Kevin Love in July 2015 and Kevin Durant in 2016.”
In 2015, Love has the ability to opt-out of his contract and become a free agent. If that happens, he will be the premier target for the Lakers, which is not a surprise after the two have been linked over the past few seasons.
In 2016, the Lakers, and really every other team with the ability to do, will pursue Kevin Durant, who could be a free agent that summer if he does not sign an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The intriguing part of Durant’s potential free agency is that will more than likely be Kobe Bryant’s final season, opening up a nice chunk of cap space to potentially sign one of the best players in the league today.
There is still plenty of time before Love and Durant become realistic options for the Lakers, but it is always fun to speculate and talk about.
With this news, it is going to be a very interesting off season for the Lakers. If no big moves are made, is the team looking at a similar season to the one they are currently experiencing? If that is the case, will the fans accept another year of below average results? Does D’Antoni keep his job if next season is just a bridge to the following summer? Many questions will need to be answered. Answers that could come in April once the Lakers regular season concludes.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak mentioned a few days ago that the Lakers plan could extend past one summer, so this news would not be shocking:
“I don’t think that we’ll use our cap money to patch together a team for next year. We’re looking to bring something [big] to Los Angeles,” he said. “May take more than one year to build, I don’t know. But because we have a lot of money this summer doesn’t mean we’ll spend it all. We’ll spend it wisely.”
The difference between this year and next year, the Lakers has its 2014 first round pick in the draft. Next year though, their first round pick will belong to the Phoenix Suns unless the Lakers end up in the lottery again with a top five pick.
While it is fun to think about Love and Durant in the purple and gold, I can’t help but have some concerns. This does seem like an all or nothing plan and if both players were to sign extensions with their respective teams or go elsewhere during free agency, where does that leave the Lakers after the Kobe era comes to a close? One thing is for certain, fans expect results and are historically impatient.
Progress needs to be made this summer. At the very least, this team needs to become a playoff team again because back-to-back years of missing the playoffs just does not happen to this franchise. It is up to the front office to make sure that does not happen.
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