Could the Los Angeles Lakers Make a Big Splash in Free Agency This Summer?
With veteran Kobe Bryant announcing his retirement at the end of the season, the Lakers could make a large splash in free agency this summer.
It’s been known for a while that no superstar has really wanted to play alongside Kobe. LA was hasn’t be able to attract big name players within the last five years with Kobe around or Kobe’s salary.
Now that he’s retiring, Los Angeles should become the free agent attraction this offseason.
There are multiple reasons for LA to be the eyed destination around the league. The location is pretty a obvious reason. Los Angeles is the city of sex, drugs and Rock & Roll.
Let’s face it, athletes love the big cities where the nightlife is better and the women are generally good looking. Athletes want to be where the weather is warmer, the nightlife is bumpin’ and there’s just flat out more to do. If they don’t play in a city like this, you bet your bottom dollar they have a vacation home there.
You see this more in the NBA than almost any other sport. The partying and high roller life is just more apart of the NBA culture today. There’s a reason guys like Kobe, Dwade, Melo and CP3 all have stayed or are going to stay with their establishments for as long as they have.
I’m not saying that this is the only reason that players are with certain franchises but I think it can definitely help sway them on whether to stay or go. However, the Lakers have one other major factor on their side this offseason.
The Lakers have A TON of cap space going into next year. They have multiple player salaries that will be coming off the books. Between Kobe and Roy Hibbert alone, the Lakers will free up $40.5 million.
As of now the Lakers only have $26 million in salary cap fees for next year. That leaves the Lakers with around $44 million that could be spent in free agency and this free agent class is loaded.
Here are some of the big names: Lebron, Kevin Durant, Andre Drummond, Dwade, Dwight Howard, Bradley Beal, Al Horford, Pau Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, Mike Conley and DeMar DeRozan
Right away you can probably cross of Lebron, DWade, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard for obvious reasons. Lebron will stay in Cleveland, Dwade is getting up there in age and he loves his Heat organization. Gasol has been there done that and I’m pretty sure Dwight Howard would let the Staples Center burn to the ground.
Realistically: I could see guys like Conley, DeRozan, Horford or Whiteside going to the Lakers without hesitation and with the Lakers roster they would all fit in. They would all fit in because they’re all above average players and the Lakers roster is probably top three worst in the league.
The only guy that would possibly not fit is Conley because the Lakers are currently trying to develop Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell at point guard. Drummond and Beal will more than likely get matched by their current teams for whatever gets offered by other teams in free agency.
The Long Shot: The rumors about Kevin Durant possibly wanting out of OKC because him and Russell Westbrook can’t share the basketball could be true, but probably not. I say not because where else could Durant go that has a better chance to win a title than OKC? What other team has the cap space and the surrounding talent? Also, I don't see him wanting to play under Kobe’s shadow.
For the sake of this article let’s say Durant jumps ship for free agency. The Lakers potentially could be a landing spot for him, especially if they can go grab a couple of younger guys to come with him.
If the Lakers could somehow get Durant, DeRozan and Whiteside to come to Los Angeles next year they could have one heck of a team. This would require them all to probably take some kind of pay cut because Durant will want a max contract and DeRozan will want something in the eight-figure range as well.
The other possibility is that Durant doesn’t care about winning a championship, wants a payday and wants out of OKC. If this is true than I can really see him heading to Los Angeles for the money and for the Los Angeles environment.
Whichever way it goes, one thing is for sure. This free agency is going to be one heck of a mad house and I think LA could be controlling it.