With the 2016 NBA draft over, the attention turns to the 2016 free-agency period. While many of us are naturally looking at the bigger names like Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, and Chandler Parsons of the world, we need to be cognizant that nailing those guys are really tough. It would be great to get some (or even just one) of those types of players, because not only will you be adding a really good player, and at probably a position of need, but you’d also be checking off the “veteran/experienced guys” box as well.
But like I said, those guys are not easy to get, and we should be preparing to miss out on them (just like you should have prepared to miss out on the pick in this year’s draft lottery). What this means is that LA must scope out free-agents who have experience that could help the young guys grow. The goal of LA over the next couple of years is to take similar steps the Warriors took prior to winning their championship last year: add vet pieces to a young nucleus.
As it stands, this is how the roster looks (with the safe assumption that Lakers bring back Clarkson and Black, while stretching Young), and what areas the Lakers would need to fill.
|PG||D’Angelo Russell||Marcelo Huertas||—|
|SG||Jordan Clarkson||Lou Williams||3rd String Wing Vet|
|SF||Brandon Ingram||Anthony Brown||—|
|PF||Julius Randle||Larry Nance Jr.||3rd String Combo-Forward Vet|
|C||Starting 5 Vet||Tarik Black||Ivica Zubac|
The biggest hole is the starting center position. This is a tricky hole to fill, because if you are to go with the best available talent (you should), you then are signing Hassan Whiteside or Bismack Biyombo, who have some experience but are not really “vets”.
However, if Lakers were to miss out on a top-talents, they should look for stop-gap options. Signing Ian Mahinmi for two years or one of Noah, Nene, Zaza or Mozgov for a one year semi-bloated contract would make sense. Or the Lakers can even go with the flier option and sign someone like a Dewayne Dedmon, Tyler Zeller, Miles Plumlee or a Cole Aldrich – guys who have a little upside left in them, but also have experience by being in this league for a few years already.
At small forward, the hope would be that Anthony Brown can provide solid minutes behind Ingram at the three. However, it would be prudent if the Lakers found an older veteran wing that could provide minutes if needed. Guys that would qualify for this are Richard Jefferson, Matt Barnes, Chase Budinger, Dorell Wright and Alan Anderson. Solomon Hill is another “young vet”, however, he’s probably going to cost much more than the previously mentioned names due to his youth.
Lastly, the next spot that should try to get shored up is the combo-forward spot. Last year, the Lakers had Metta World Peace here. He should’ve mainly been a small ball 4, but he played minutes at the 3 spot (thanks, Byron!). Guys that would qualify for this are Jared Dudley, Lance Thomas, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Tayshaun Prince. All those guys can provide minutes at small-froward if needed, but they all should be mainly used as small-ball 4’s.
And just a note about point guard, I think we have that “vet need” covered if we bring back Marcelo Huertas. While Marcelo does not have many years of experience in the NBA, he is a seasoned basketball player. LA also still has Lou Williams, who can cover spot minutes at PG if need be.
While I hope the Lakers bring in some better names to fill some of these holes (and I’m not necessarily talking about all-stars), I would be okay with bringing in some stop-gap vet options since they have a young core to work with now. Adding veteran presences to a young locker room is as much of a need as some of these positional holes are.
For a list of free agents the Lakers could pursue this summer, click here.