The Los Angeles Lakers have learned the hard way over the past three summers how difficult it can be to convince a superstar free agent to sign on in a situation that is less than ideal for someone that wants to win right away.
One advantage the Lakers have this time around that they have not had in recent years is the ability to offer two max contracts to free agents, seeing as they have roughly $60 million in cap space heading into the start of free agency on July 1st.
Even with that type of flexibility, the Lakers are in the middle of rebuilding the roster, centered around the young core they have assembled through the draft. With so much youth on the roster, the team is likely a season or two away from even being in the playoffs, barring a splash in free agency.
Still, it has not hindered the Lakers’ mentality of going after the marquee names on the market. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, despite a failure thus far to secure a meeting with Kevin Durant, he is at the top of their free agency “wish list” that includes a handful of big names.
I'm told that besides KD, Lakers' wish list includes Whiteside, Al Horford, Nic Batum, Harrison Barnes & Ryan Anderson
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 29, 2016
A few of these names come as no surprise. Durant is a no-brainer as the top player on the market, while Hassan Whiteside, Horford and Batum are probably in the tier right below him.
Barnes and Anderson, however, are a bit baffling. Barnes really struggled throughout most of the season, hitting some extremely low points along the way. Also, he’s a restricted free agent, meaning it will take at least close to max money just to have a chance to pry him away from the Golden State Warriors.
Anderson is a sharpshooter that can stretch the floor, but the Lakers already have Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. at the power forward position. Defensively, Anderson can’t really play the three or the five, so it would not make much sense to spend big money on another power forward.
Free agency officially starts in just over 48 hours from now, and rumors are swirling around the Lakers, per usual. Will any of them prove to be true? The wait is almost over.