The time has come. July 1 is just around the corner, and with that will surely come a Woj-bomb or two in the wee-hours of the night. Yes, the NBA free agency period is coming, and it is about to be wild.
We know the big names on the market: Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, DeMar Derozan, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Nic Batum, Al Jefferson, and so on and so on. The list is huge for the 2016 free agent class, and even bigger when you include restricted free agents such as Jordan Clarkson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Drummond.
The Lakers are also linked to ex-Lakers Kent Bazemore and even Ramon Sessions, and could possibly re-sign Tarik Black or Marcelo Huertas from this past season. Restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson should be wearing a Lakers uniform next season as well. With so many names, and so much cap space, we take a look at some under-the-radar options for Luke Walton and the Lakers this offseason.
DJ Augustin, PG, Denver Nuggets, Unrestricted
2015-2016 Cap Hit: $3 million
Augustin is a seasoned vet, and has been bouncing around the league since 2012. In fact, Augustin has played for seven teams since being drafted by the Bobcats in 2008 out of the University of Texas. However, Augustin has become an established and reliable backup floor general. Last year he averaged 7.5 points, 1.5 boards and just north of three assists per game in 62 games split between the Thunder and the Nuggets. Augustin can still produce, and his experience with stars such as Derrick Rose, Paul George, and of course ex-teammate Kevin Durant, is a valuable asset. Adding a veteran point guard to a young roster of talented players could be a nice option for the Lakers. With just three guards on the roster (assuming Clarkson re-signs), Augustin could step in and become the backup point guard to help out D’Angelo Russell.
Maurice Harkless, SF, Portland Trail Blazers, Restricted
2015-2016 Cap Hit: $2,894,059
Maurice “Mo” Harkless is still only 23 years of age. Harkless spent his first few seasons with the Orlando Magic before being traded in 2015 to the Trail Blazers. Harkless is the perfect guy to play small forward, another position where the Lakers are lacking depth. After drafting Brandon Ingram second overall, the Lakers currently have only Ingram and Anthony Brown at SF on their depth chart. Harkless is still young, so adding him to the already young roster might not be in Mitch Kupchak’s best interests. Still, his potential could make this move worth considering. Being a restricted free agent makes it a little tougher on the Lakers, but with the Blazers rumored to be pursuing top free agents such as Dwight Howard, a return to Portland might be out of the question. Just imagining a starting four of Russell, Clarkson, Harkless, and Randle is making my mouth salivate.
Jerryd Bayless, G, Milwaukee Bucks, Unrestricted
2015-2016 Cap Hit: $3,900,000
Another veteran that would be a nice add and another relatively cheap option for the young Lakers. There is currently nobody behind D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers need a backup point guard, unless they decide to re-sign Marcelo Huertas. Luke Walton could use a veteran off the bench and Bayless can knock down shots from outside at ease. Bayless shot a career-high 43% percent from three last season with the Bucks, and averaged 10 points and three dimes per game. He cost about 4 million last season, but could get anywhere from 5-9 million under the new cap. Bayless and Lou together with Nance as the bench unit would be a decent group for Coach Luke.
Tyler Zeller, C, Boston Celtics, Restricted
2015-2016 Cap Hit: $2,616,975
Zeller never really got an opportunity with the Celtics this past season. The 26-year-old center averaged just under 12 minutes per game, averaging six points and three boards. Zeller is a restricted free agent, so the Celtics have the right to match any offers. However, with Boston chasing Al Horford, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Durant, Zeller’s time in Boston might be up. The Lakers are expecting second-round pick Ivica Zubac to be on the roster this season, but he still has a lot of room to grow. Zeller can produce at both ends of the floor, and could serve as a valuable backup center for the Lakers.
Seth Curry, PG, Sacramento Kings, Restricted
2015-2016 cap hit: $947, 276
Read the name carefully. It’s Seth, not Steph. However, the brother of the NBA MVP would be a solid choice for this year’s Lakers. Curry played a limited role in Sacramento, but when given the chance he showed flashes of brilliance. The former Duke Blue Devil averaged just 15 minutes per game in 44 games played, but shot 45% from both three-point range and from the field. He is just 25 years old, and I’m sure Luke Walton would love nothing more then to coach another Curry. A depth chart of Russell and Curry at the point would be interesting to see, and the Lakers can sure make this happen if they want to.