With July 1st right around the corner, the Lakers picture perfect offseason kicks into another important phase. Free agency.
With a ton of cap space (around $64 million to spend) the team will be able to afford whoever they want and come to terms with. As the Lakers are reportedly out of the running for Kevin Durant already, the front office won’t have to wait around for an answer for the most sought after talent this offseason like in previous years, which should benefit them. With that being said, a few of our guys took the time to write about a player from each position that would be their ideal signing this offseason.
Guard- D.J. Augustin
I really like Augustin. I think he can provide solid veteran leadership and toughness as a backup point guard to D’Angelo Russell. Augustin spent almost half of his career in Charlotte where he averaged 11 points and 4.4 assists as a backup. He played last year in Denver where he averaged 11.6 points and 4.7 assists in 23.5 minutes of play. He spent most of his time backing up Emmanuel Mudiay. His experience with young guards will be invaluable to this young Lakers team.
Forward- Nicolas Batum
I’m not sure Batum wants to leave Charlotte, but if the Lakers could entertain a solid and pleasing offer, hopefully he will take it. Batum fits extremely well with the Lakers. He can shoot, pass, rebound and defend. He is basically a decent all-around basketball player. In his first season with Charlotte, Batum averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in 35 minutes of play. At 27, Batum offers veteran leadership on and off the court for this young team. He can also play the mentorship role to Brandon Ingram. The Lakers would be extremely grateful if Batum decides to sign with them.
Center- Hassan Whiteside
I can just imagine Russell throwing lobs to Whiteside over and over again. Whiteside should be the Lakers most important free agent and he is also the most attainable for them as they look to pursue him heavily. Whiteside offers the Lakers a great defensive presence in the middle and also a solid player in the pick-and-roll game. He averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds last year and led the league in blocks with 3.7 per game. The Lakers as a team averaged only 4.1 blocks per game. Whiteside would be a huge free agent addition if he decides to sign in Los Angeles. The Lakers have struck out a lot in free agency these past few years, but signing Whiteside would be a huge accomplishment for them.
D’Angelo Russell-Nicolas Batum-Brandon Ingram-Julius Randle-Hassan Whiteside
D.J. Augustin, Jordan Clarkson, Anthony Brown, Larry Nance, Jr., Ivica Zubac
Analysis: I think this ten-player rotation would be extremely effective because of the versatility of some of the players that can play multiple positions. Clarkson and Augustin could both play the point while Batum and Ingram could either play the guard or the forward position. The starting lineup would cause havoc on defense because of the length and size of each player. The bench would provide an up-tempo pace and high energy plays. Overall, I think this lineup would be exponentially more talented and fun than last year’s lineup. This group gives the Lakers a solid chance to compete in every game.
Guard- Courtney Lee
As a versatile and proven veteran, Courtney Lee should certainly be a player the Lakers take a long look at this summer. Lee might make anywhere from $11-14 million but any team that signs him is getting a player who is a prototypical 3-and-D guy, which is perfect for Luke Walton’s system and the modern NBA. At 6-foot-5, he has the length to contest shots on the perimeter against guards and some forwards which would be great to pair with D’Angelo Russell. Lee is a good guy to have in the locker room — which the Lakers desperately need — and will not demand to start for the team as he is comfortable coming off the bench. Over his career, the 30-year-old has shot under 37 percent from deep only once and is a 38.4 percent shooter during his 8 years of experience, which would only help the Lakers as they were at the bottom of nearly every three-point statistical category during last season.
Forward- Chandler Parsons
Many of the same reasons I believe the Lakers should go after Courtney Lee also constitute for Chandler Parsons. The team needs defenders. The team needs shooters. While he has been nagged with injuries the past two seasons, when healthy (which he says he is), Parsons provides elite athleticism, a plus defender who can guard multiple spots, another shooter for Walton’s offense, and the best free agent recruiter in the NBA *eyes emoji*. Parsons will demand a max contract and the Lakers can offer it to him when they meet.
Center- Joakim Noah
Now this is where I’m at a crossroads, as there are a few viable options at the center position and with the team’s desperate need for an upgrade there, they should all get a look. My reasoning for Joakim Noah is simple: he plays very hard, is a high IQ guy, and he defends. Unfortunately, like with Parsons, Noah has been hit by the injury bug the past two seasons. But prior to that, he was arguably an MVP-level player. The fit with Luke Walton’s system would be effortless as he’s a terrific screening and passing big that would pair well with Julius Randle. Noah will probably cost quite a bit but if you can get him for a short term deal, he could fill a huge hole for the team.
D’Angelo Russell-Brandon Ingram-Chandler Parsons-Julius Randle-Joakim Noah
Jordan Clarkson, Courtney Lee, Lou Williams, Larry Nance, Jr., Anthony Brown
Analysis: LENGTH. In this scenario the Lakers would give the Bucks a run for their money in terms of players’ wingspans. But in his presser, Walton insisted he would form his system around the players he has in place and if the Lakers are able to grab a few of these free agents, it could look very similar to what we saw in Oakland. The team needs to improve in many ways but my primary concerns are defending and three-point shooting. Parsons, Ingram, and Lee would be extremely versatile on defense being able to switch a lot of match ups on that end while the starters would have no trouble creating favorable ones on offense. This rotation would ultimately move Jordan Clarkson to the bench, where I believe his scoring ability would benefit the second unit enormously.
Guard- Evan ‘Don’t Google’ Fournier
Although Fournier is a restricted free agent whom the Magic are likely to match any offer for, Orlando has a shaky history with letting players walk. The French 23-year-old shot 40% from behind the arc and nearly 50% of shots off drives, both near the top of the league. Fournier would prove to be a trusty backcourt-mate for D’Angelo Russell and his passes, shooting 41.3% on catch-and-shoot attempts.
Forward- Allen Crabbe
Crabbe is 24 years old and has improved as a player every year he has been in the league. After being yanked back and forth from the D-League to the Trail Blazers, Crabbe found a spot with the latter. Crabbe shot nearly 40% from three point range and had an eFG% of 55%. While he spent most of his time at small forward, Crabbe can also slide over and play shooting guard from time to time, giving the Lakers more flexibility with lineups. Crabbe won’t command a bank-breaking contract, either.
Dwight Howard Al Horford
I’m going with Horford for two reasons other than purely basketball. One, everyone is bound to pick Whiteside, Biyombo, or even Joakim Noah. Two, I’ve always been a fan of Horford, and I’d rather him give a max contract than Noah. While some cite age as a factor against signing him, he is a great fit on this young Lakers team. Horford can space the floor and move the basketball, and is a massive upgrade from Roy Hibbert in nearly every way possible. With that said, Horford isn’t likely to give the Lakers the time of day in free agency, but a guy can dream.
D’Angelo Russell-Evan Fournier-Brandon Ingram-Julius Randle-Al Horford
Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., Tarik Black
With Fournier in the starting lineup, Jordan Clarkson would slide to the bench in the sixth man role. Larry Nance brought energy and effort as a reserve in a surprisingly effective rookie campaign, and a fully healthy version of Nance should only improve. It wouldn’t be tough for Los Angeles to bring Tarik Black back. Black was by far the best pick-and-roll partner for D’Angelo Russell; and he, like Nance, was an energetic bench player. That trio of players would be the main cog in Luke Walton’s second unit.
Guard- Lance Stephenson
I chose Lance over more popular players such as Kent Bazemore and Demar DeRozan due to the fact that he will come at a much bigger discount, in part because of a lackluster performance the past 2 years. Lance offers high energy and defense and there is always hope that he can revert back into the player that he was at Indiana when he averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists with stellar defense. But even if he doesn’t go back to his old form he can still provide defense at the guard position, which is desperately needed in Los Angeles.
Forward- Chandler Parsons
There are many reasons for the Lakers to sign Chandler Parsons. When he was finally healthy, he put up 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in the last two months of the season. He shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 47.7 percent on three pointers. He is a quality starter who can play both forward spots and would thrive in Walton’s offensive scheme. While there are legitimate concerns about his health as yet again his season ended with another knee injury, I believe he’s worth the risk. We are in need of three point shooters and he would stretch the floor at both SF and PF. And even if he does fall flat, his contract would be off the books by the time the Lakers are serious contenders anyways.
Center- Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside is the top unrestricted free agent center, and that alone is a good reason for the Lakers to try to sign him as they haven’t had a quality center in years. But the reason he is a good target is that he offers two skills that the Lakers lack. He’s great at pick and rolls, and he is a shot blocker that protects the rim. The Lakers would improve a lot as D’Angelo Russell would benefit greatly from having Whiteside setting screens, and Whiteside will benefit from having a better passer at point guard.
D’Angelo Russell-Jordan Clarkson-Brandon Ingram-Julius Randle-Hassan Whiteside
Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson, Lou Williams, Larry Nance, Jr.
Analysis: My ideal rotation would have the young core still developing as starters and Whiteside as the starting center. Parsons would come off the bench but he would be getting the same amount of minutes that a starter would. Larry Nance, Jr. would be getting enough playing time as a PF and as a small ball center, and Lou Williams would be a key reserve player as the secondary scorer off the bench. I believe this rotation would succeed due to having quality players on the bench and from having the young core develop as starters.
With the salary cap spike for this year, teams will be splurging heavily on players this offseason and if the Lakers want to add impact players they will have to be effective and act quickly. So far the team has secured their guys in terms of a new head coach in Luke Walton and the second overall pick Brandon Ingram. Can they continue this success? We’ll see shortly.
For a list of free agents the Lakers could pursue this summer, click here.
All statistics provided by Basketball Reference.