The Lakers had quite a favorable draft on Thursday night. Other than the Larry Nance selection with the 27th pick, it was near perfect in my book.
They got a dynamic point guard and a potential 3-and-D wing player with Anthony Brown. The 27th pick was a head-scratcher. I’m not really sure what to expect of Larry Nance. Video and measurements show that he’s a leaper and has good length for his position. He was also the Defensive Player of the Year in his conference, and has a developing offensive game.I just don’t think the Lakers got good value with that pick. DraftExpress had him going late in the second round. I trust the front office though. They’ve nailed picks in the past (hello, Jordan Clarkson), so I give them the benefit of the doubt.
They also “made up for it” by signing Robert Upshaw to their Summer League team. That’s a guy that could become a legitimate defensive anchor, and you don’t see that potential from an undrafted free agent very often. Though, the reason he went undrafted was because of character issues and he has a bit of a heart issue, so it’s no guarantee that he even makes the roster.
Anyway, the draft is over and it’s time to shift towards free agency.
The first thing you can do is take a pen and scribble out Rajon Rondo’s name. I didn’t want him anyway, but with the addition of Russell, there’s no room for him.
There are two distinct needs the Lakers still have. A 3-and-D wing, and another big man, preferably a rim-protecting center. LaMarcus Aldridge’s name has been floated around. While a frontcourt of Randle and Aldridge sounds good, I definitely get a little concerned when I think of that tandem defensively. They’d really need to get a rim-protecting center to complete the frontcourt. My thoughts are the same when it comes to Kevin Love, though he’s an even worse fit because he can’t play center at all.
And an issue is that since the Lakers only have about $22M in cap space, adding Aldridge or Love would basically eat up all of their potential to improve via free agency.
You could argue that I’m being pretty short-sighted since the Lakers will have the chance to get these things in future offseasons when they have an abundance of cap space, and it’s a valid point. It’s not all about competing this year, since it’ll be tough for the Lakers just to make the playoffs. But for me, signing a player like Aldridge or Love when you already have a promising young prospect at the position just seems like a waste to me. ESPECIALLY, when the team has so many other needs.
That being said, I think my ideal offseason would now be to sign a player like DeMarre Carroll, Wesley Matthews, Danny Green, or Tobias Harris and then a defensive-minded center like Robin Lopez, Tyson Chandler (though he’s probably a little too old), or Omer Asik to a short-term deal. Two years at the most. Heck, I’d be fine with bringing Ed Davis back at the right price. Not Jordan Hill, though.
In a perfect world, the Lakers could sign DeAndre Jordan or Marc Gasol since they fit beautifully with the current roster, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect one of those two to leave their situations to join a rebuilding team.
There’s also Roy Hibbert. Despite opting in for 2015, the Pacers drafted his replacement in Myles Turner. It’s also no secret that the Pacers want to minimize Hibbert’s role on the team and frankly, get rid of him. Roy isn’t a great player. He doesn’t offer too much on offense, and is not a great rebounder, but he would provide the Lakers with valuable rim protection. Again though, an issue would be that he would take up much of the Lakers’ remaining cap space, and preventing them from filling another need.
Those are my thoughts, and I’m very excited for this next month to unfold. In the next few days or so, I’m going to come up with a list of some bargain-bin free agents the Lakers should take a look at it (spoiler: Alexis Ajinca will be on the list). If you want to come up with some suggestions for that, comment below or just @ me on Twitter.