The NBA title is back in the City of Angels. With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the NBA offseason and what the next season will hold, what is on the line for the Lakers this offseason if they want to bring back their team to try and repeat? Here are some of the more important decisions the Lakers have to make this offseason.
Anthony Davis To Opt Out and Re-Sign with Lakers
After winning a championship and doing it with one of the best players to ever step inside the black lines on the court, it would have been a huge shock if Anthony Davis decided to opt-out and actually leave for another team.
Those short odds of speculation were quickly laid to rest last week when Davis said he plans on re-signing with the Lakers, despite opting out of the final year of his contract, worth roughly $28 million.
However, free agency is going to be tricky this season, because we don’t know yet how the pandemic will hurt the salary cap for next season. The cap is derived from league revenue and because no one could sell tickets to the playoffs, or the final regular-season games, that money took a big hit.
The league has expressed interest in making this next season sort of a bridge year to get the NBA back on its’ feet, but all of this will have to be negotiated between the owners and player’s union. That makes the likelihood of anyone getting a supermax deal this offseason a lot less; even for a guy like Davis.
However, there could be a way around this for AD though. According to Broderick Turner from the LA Times, Davis could sign a two-year contract with another player option for the second year. That could help Davis (and the Lakers) get over the financial hump of the pandemic while leaving flexibility on both sides.
Davis would assumingly opt-out again after the 2020-21 season, which would make him a free agent at the same time as LeBron James, as well as many other superstar players.
Navigating through what should be some financial challenges will be important for all 30 teams this offseason. Keep in mind that after Davis, have to decide on a number of other important players from their championship team.
Important Free Agent Decisions
Not only are the Lakers going to need to spend some money to retain Davis in the short and long term, but they have some veterans on their roster who will also be getting a ton of interest on the open market.
Dwight Howard is now an unrestricted free agent and after looking lean and spry all season. Howard is going to get some interest as a backup, or even a few starting center roles around the league. He’s no longer capable of playing big minutes every night, but he is still extremely effective on defense and rebounding the ball for 15-to-20 minutes every game.
It’s going to take a lot more than the veteran minimum for the Lakers to bring him back. With money potentially tight right now, I could see another team scooping him up on a short-term deal if the money is right.
Another name to look out for is Rajon Rondo, who also has a player option. He is likely to opt-out of. Rondo was arguably the third-most important Laker offensively in the playoffs and his toughness and veteran leadership could be used on a dozen other young playoff teams.
Boston is just one team that has been rumored as a potential suitor. Once again, it’s going to take a lot more than the veteran minimum to keep Rondo this offseason and the Lakers may decide the price is too high.
Other Lakers to watch out for who have the option of becoming free agents this summer are Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8.5 million player option), JaVale McGee ($4.2 million player option), and Avery Bradley ($5 million player option).
Of those last three, KCP will almost certainly test free agency. The other two might opt-in for one more year with the Lakers. Markieff Morris will also be a free agent coming off his year playing under the veteran minimum, as will injured former star, DeMarcus Cousins.
Free Agent Targets
Assuming Davis doesn’t re-sign for much, or any discount, the Lakers won’t have a ton of money to throw around no matter their veteran’s decisions. They will only have some veteran minimum contracts to throw out. However, there should still be some serviceable names to potentially replace Howard, KCP, and Rondo if all three leave.
LA won’t be able to back up the armored truck for any of these guys. Below is a list of veterans with at least eight years of experience that could be willing to take a pay cut to come to play in LA:
|– Nicolas Batum||– Jamal Crawford||– Robin Lopez|
|– JJ Barea||– Jeff Green||– Wesley Matthews|
|– Marco Belinelli||– Maurice Harkless||– Paul Millsap|
|– Michael Beasley||– John Henson||– E’Twaun Moore|
|– Corey Brewer||– James Johnson||– Kyle O’Quinn|
|– DeMarre Carroll||– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||– Austin Rivers|
|– Wilson Chandler||– Kyle Korver||– Jeff Teague|
|– Evan Turner||– Hassan Whiteside|
All of these guys could be had at or just above the veteran minimum, and the Lakers will have to be shopping for guys like this if they want to keep their depth intact.
The good news for the Lakers is that other than point guards, the rest of their holes should be cheaply filled. If Rondo opts out, there aren’t many veteran minimum guys who could take his place. Although Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, or JJ Barea could be interesting targets if Rondo walks.
There are several good veteran wings and bigs on this list that the Lakers could go after too. If Nic Batum is healthy that would be a good place to start on the wing, as would Jeff Green, DeMarre Carroll, James Johnson, or Wes Matthews.
In the middle, the list is a little weak too, but Kyle O’Quinn, Hassan Whiteside, or John Henson would all be serviceable bigs to replace Howard if he leaves. However, according to Shams Charania, there is mutual interest between both Howard and the Lakers to make a deal happen in free agency.
The questions are plentiful, but the Lakers have enough appeal to get veterans to want to come and play with Davis and James. It all depends on if they will take what likely will be less than other teams are offering in order to get a chance to play for a championship.
NBA Futures Bets:
- Lakers’ 2020-21 Western Conference +275 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
- Lakers’ 2020-21 NBA Title Repeat +325 at BetOnline