With free agency about to start in a few hours, this is usually a time when everyone gets excited. “CAP SPACE! ADD SOMEONE THAT WILL ALREADY BE PRODUCTIVE!” declare fans. Well, it would appear that the front office is not gung-ho about spending big this off-season.
Lakers fans want to improve quickly, so there are a lot of questions about possible free agents. Names like Gordon Hayward, Kyle Lowry, and Jrue Holiday are names that have been discussed online. With that said, fans should take a deeper look into free agency. The Lakers may have interest in those guys, but fans should be looking lower on free agent lists.
There are only a couple of spots left on the roster and the Lakers are trying to preserve cap space for 2018, so expect value contracts and reclamation projects. One year deals with team options or taking on expiring contracts are going to be the likely outcomes.
Here is a list of several players that the Lakers could potentially have interest in via free agency, or failed prospects that they could acquire through trades.
Kyle Korver – SG/SF – Provides shooting
Korver is still a remarkable shooter, but with his age, he is going to start regressing. He would be a great option, but is more likely to try and get a ring. Sam Amico reports that the Lakers do have interest, but if Korver does come to LA, expect it to be on a large one year contract.
Justin Holiday – SG – Provides shooting and defense
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka stated that the Lakers will be focusing on shooting and defense in free agency. Holiday had an underrated season with the New York Knicks, and has shot a combined 35% from deep the past two years. That isn’t otherworldly, but to get a rotation player like Holiday who can play defense and shoot at least at league average would be a good acquisition.
Ian Clark – PG/SG – Provides shooting
This one is pushing it. Clark will likely be overpaid, but if for some reason his market sours, he could be an option for the Lakers. Clark is a 36.4% career 3 point shooter, but started to become intriguing this past season. His defense is adequate, but I would not say it is a real strength. Add in that Luke Walton has experience with Clark from their time in Golden State, and this could be a match.
Shaun Livingston PG/SG – Provides ball handling and defense
Livingston is a common name seen around Lakers rumors due to the Luke Walton connection. Livingston would provide the secondary ball handling and creation that is sorely needed in LA. Like stated above with Korver, Livingston may ring chase, but he could also try to get the financial security.
Jodie Meeks – SG – Provides shooting
Lakers nostalgia has made this a widely seen suggestion. When Meeks is on the floor, he is clearly a sharpshooter. The problem with Meeks isn’t necessarily his abilities on the floor, it is his ability to STAY on the floor. Meeks has played a combined 39 games in the last 2 seasons, making this proposition pretty risky. The former Laker will not command a large contract, but there is the old saying that being healthy is a talent as well.
Trade options for failed prospects
Mario Hezonja – SG/SF
If anyone follows me on Twitter, they knew this was coming. Hezonja has not been very good his first two years in the league, but there was a reason he was drafted 5th overall by Orlando. His talents in the NBA are all, in theory, shooting, playmaking, and passing, but he has not had the opportunity to really showcase these talents.
Ben McLemore – SG
Like Hezonja, McLemore is a true reclamation project. In his four years with Sacramento, he has been a complete disappointment. McLemore still shows athleticism and has shown the ability to stretch the floor, despite his issues with the Kings. I thought that the Kings did not pick up a past option, which would make McLemore an unrestricted free agent, but most seem to forget he is still a restricted free agent. This means the Lakers would either have to hope the Kings do not match, or trade a minor piece in order to bring in McLemore.
Stanley Johnson – SG/SF/PF
It would appear that many still have a lot of faith in the former Mater Dei prep star. After an intriguing rookie season, Johnson was a major disappointment in his sophomore year. Stan Van Gundy had been rumored to want a veteran at the draft, but do the Lakers have that player to pry away Johnson? Defense is Johnson’s main calling card at this point, but he has potential to stretch the floor and become a secondary ball handler. I am not the highest on Johnson, but if the cost is cheap enough, bringing in yet another former lottery talent would be a smart move.