Thursday night at midnight, the calendar will officially turn the page to the month of July, which will open the NBA free agency moratorium period, meaning teams and players can start to meet and negotiate contracts and the possibility of signing on together for at least next season.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, they will have roughly $60 million in salary cap space, thanks to an exploding salary cap, several rookie contracts and some hefty deals coming off the books.
While it appears they are out of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes before they even officially started, the Lakers can now turn their attention to other players of need. The team will reportedly make Hassan Whiteside a top target, along with Al Horford and Chandler Parsons.
After selecting Brandon Ingram with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Lakers have seemingly found a solution at small forward, leaving the center position as the glaring weakness on the roster.
The Lakers appear just about set in the back court with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, who is a restricted free agent but expected to return to the team, along with Lou Williams off the bench.
Many believe that Los Angeles will target mostly players in the front court, considering they need depth at the three and at the five. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was on SportsCenter on Monday, and acknowledged those roster needs, but said the Lakers will look at all positions in free agency, even with a promising back court already in place.
“We do feel we need to address the front court, but taking a step back, I think we need help everywhere. So I wouldn’t rule out adding a veteran player at any position. In fact, we may be aggressive in a back court position, even though we have back court players. Not because we don’t like the ones we do, but because we think we can get better.”
The Lakers could certainly use depth everywhere, seeing as they won 17 games last season. A strong veteran presence at point guard could help the development of Russell and Clarkson. Perhaps adding a star-level talent at guard could slide Clarkson to a sixth man role, which might be the best spot for him.
Either way, it’s a good thing that the Lakers are looking at the entire picture. While adding a center that can protect the rim and anchor the defense should be the top priority, the roster still needs help from top to bottom. Los Angeles needs veteran players to help the development of their young core, and it appears they will look for them at every position when free agency starts later this week.
For the full video from ESPN, click here.