Amidst all the talk of what the Los Angeles Lakers could do during 2017 NBA free agency, it seems right to take a look at big names they may actually sign.
It’s anyone’s guess what the future will look like for the Los Angeles Lakers. Following a midseason overhaul of the front office, the only thing that’s certain is this franchise is headed in a new direction. Just where Magic Johnson decides to take things, though, is a mystery.
That’s why there’s been so much speculation about the team’s plan for 2017 NBA free agency. We already have a good idea of how things could play out during the 2017 NBA Draft, but the lottery could make any current plans irrelevant. Hence, the focus is on free agency at this moment.
So who could the Lakers look to add this offseason? Your guess is probably as good as mine, but that’s against the point. What I’m trying to say is that Los Angeles could go in just about any direction, even with limited cap space.
Will they play the waiting game, opting to save while adding a bargain free agent or two? Will they find the space to sign a star? The latter is a serious possibility, and there are a few realistic candidates for the Lakers to go after.
So here they are–a handful of big names Los Angeles could make a legitimate run at during 2017 NBA free agency. I wouldn’t place any wagers on these signings becoming reality, but stranger things have happened in the unruly world of basketball.
Marreese Speights, C, Los Angeles Clippers (Player Option)
Okay, so Marreese Speights isn’t the biggest of names out there. However, considering the options available at center this offseason, I definitely think he fits into the “noteworthy” category at the very least.
Speights earned his notoriety during his days with the Golden State Warriors, proving to be a fan favorite off the bench and one of the best true centers with three-point range. The Clippers signed him this past offseason to bring some depth to the frontcourt, but there’s a good chance he declines his player option and signs elsewhere this offseason.
If that’s the case, the Lakers would be wise to kick the tires. They don’t offer much in terms of proven center talent right now. Ivica Zubac shows serious promise as a potential starter, but likely needs more time playing in a reserve role. Timofey Mozgov is the starter simply due to his ridiculous salary, but is far from a reliable option. There’s a decent chance Tarik Black‘s team option isn’t exercised this offseason.
That would leave a significant opening for Speights to come in and serve as a capable backup and small-ball center. He’s got the range to open the floor for the Lakers, and shouldn’t cost too much on the open market.
Especially with Speights’ ties to Luke Walton, this potential pairing makes a ton of sense. If the Lakers actually decide to add another center this offseason, they should convince the sharpshooting big man to swap jerseys while staying in L.A.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Detroit Pistons (Restricted)
It’s unclear at this point what the Lakers’ plan for free agency is. Johnson recently told ESPN that he’s more concerned about spending money next offseason, but that doesn’t mean we can count the team out of making a splash this year.
That’s why I believe they could make a run at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Although not a superstar per se, Caldwell-Pope is an excellent addition to any NBA lineup. He’s developed into a terrific 3-and-D wing, but it seems Detroit is ready to tear it down and start over. That could mean they opt to let him go via restricted free agency, or find a sign-and-trade partner this offseason.
The Pistons already tried to deal Caldwell-Pope prior to the 2017 trade deadline. Although a trade obviously never came to fruition, it seemed like a sign of Detroit’s willingness to ship him away. That could open the door for the Lakers to step in and give the former first round pick a more stable home in the NBA.
As a restricted free agent, Caldwell-Pope can be signed away for the right price. While the Lakers likely aren’t looking to sign any more massive deals during 2017 free agency, an opportunity to make an upgrade at shooting guard and on defense could convince Johnson to give up some of that remaining cap space.
Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors (Player Option)
While the Toronto Raptors are a strong squad, it’s becoming clear Kyle Lowry isn’t going to win a ring in the Great White North. With an opportunity to hit the open market this offseason, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Lowry jump ship and head back to the States.
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One of the teams largely to be considered a potential landing spot is the Lakers. While they aren’t a contender at this point, they could easily be in the next year or so. That’s why Lowry will at least hear them out during free agency.
Now it seems a bit crazy for Magic and Co. to give up big bucks to bring the veteran aboard. They already have an outstanding young point guard in D’Angelo Russell, and Lowry isn’t exactly young or at the peak of his physical health. His 2016-17 campaign was marred by injuries, and the issues aren’t going to disappear at the ripe age of 31.
Still, Lowry could be intrigued by the idea of joining Paul George and forming a superstar tandem in Los Angeles. Especially with the Lakers’ bevy of rising stars, it’s a situation that could present championship opportunities somewhere down the road.
If the Lakers wanted to, they could find the space for a max deal. It may seem crazy on the surface, but a potential Lowry signing is more realistic than you might think. Still, I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet.
Source: Fox Sports