Los Angeles Lakers: What to Do with Their Max Space?
The Los Angeles Lakers had their free agency outlook take a turn for the better with the reports that they now have space to offer a max contract. The only question remaining is how to spend all the cash.
For the past couple of months, Lakers’ general manager Rob Pelinka’s image has been damaged, ranging from the public blasting by Magic Johnson to being portrayed as a compulsive liar, to his apparent mishandling of the Anthony Davis trade. All this on top of the rumblings that many around the league already weren’t fans of his from his days as an agent.
But with a snap of a finger, those laughing at Rob Lowe’s doppelganger may have just straightened up their faces.
One of the criticisms he drew from the Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans was that he didn’t pay enough attention to the smaller details that could have left the Lakers with room for a max contract if dealt with correctly.
Instead, they were projected to have roughly $23 million to work with if you believed that the 26-year-old Davis was going to accept his $4 million trade kicker.
But, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, not only did Davis waive the trade kicker, but Pelinka was able to make a deal with the Washington Wizards to clear up additional cap space.
These moves give the Lakers $32 million to work with this summer. Enough to land a top free agent such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, etc.
But before we all go dreaming about the possibilities of another LeBron James-led Big 3, we must first ask if that would even be the correct decision.
Currently constructed, the Lakers’ roster consists of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, rookie Talen Horton-Tucker, and restricted free agents Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams. Would they be better off using the $30+ million to build depth or going all-in for a star?
Shoot for the Stars
Ever since Lebron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010, we have been in the era of the “superteam.” And that was no more obvious than over the last five seasons.
Now, some are speculating that this summer may signal the end of the Big 3 and beyond, but if you can have your own, why not? Especially now that the Houston Rockets are attempting to build one.
With the Lakers needing a starting point guard and shooting, someone like an Irving or Walker, or even a D’Angelo Russell or Malcolm Brogdon would make for an ideal fit. Acquiring one would give the Lakers arguably the best top-level talent in the Association and provide them with a secondary ballhandler when James goes to the bench. Not to mention, it would give Los Angeles another younger building block to pair with Davis after LeBron retires.
Something to keep in mind is that signing Russell or Brogdon would not cost as much as Irving or Walker, meaning they would have some money for a rotation player. Then they could use their veteran and mid-level exceptions to fill out the rest of the roster.
And, of course, there’s Kawhi Leonard, although that’s more of a pipe dream than anything at this point. But if you can get him, you drop everything for him.
Let’s Build Up Depth
The 2019 Finals was the perfect reminder for just how critical depth is and the risks being top-heavy-dependent carry. The Toronto Raptors won with a single superstar surrounded by a group of quality players while one injury substantially derailed the Golden State Warriors’ chances at a three-peat.
People forget what made the Warriors so special before Kevin Durant’s arrival: “Strength in Numbers.” However, they had to sacrifice all that depth to bring him in, which was in no way the wrong move; it just carried its risks.
Currently, the Lakers have three starters, a backup (Caruso), and two question marks. Signing one of the top free agents would leave them with no further room to operate other than settling for the older, limited veterans on the market. They would be just like last season’s Warriors- extremely talented at the top but one injury away from being vulnerable.
The Lakers already have James and Davis as their stars, with Kuzma as a formidable third cog. Realistically, all they really need at this point is to flesh out the roster with a good supporting cast.
The Lakers need shooting and defense, and with LeBron James already 34 and only getting older, it’s imperative to get as many able bodies to cover for his deficiencies and keep him fresh.
And this is where they could look into the middle-tiered players such as Patrick Beverly, Danny Green, Darren Collison, J.J. Reddick, Brook Lopez, Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, Kyle Korver, etc. Snapping up two (or three) of those guys would bring in exactly what this roster lacks.
Ultimately, the best way to put it is that opting for the star would be high-risk, high-reward, while the alternative is lower-risk, lesser-reward. If you are interested to learn more about us and receive more content, click here!