Anyone who even casually follows the Los Angeles Lakers knows the team faces a pivotal offseason this summer. First comes the draft lottery, where the Lakers' second-worst record still only gives them a 55.8 percent chance to keep their pick.
After either drafting or finding out they won't retain the pick, the team's front office must next turn their attempts towards free agency, where they project to have a league-leading $68.3 million in cap space, plenty of money to offer at least two maximum contracts.
With Lakers president Jim Buss staring down his self-imposed deadline to return the team to the Western Conference Finals or step down, who the team is able to acquire will be a major indicator of whether or not the team will be able to reach those unlikely heights.
Former Lakers point guard Magic Johnson already offered the groundbreaking insight that Buss should try to sign Kevin Durant, and on Sunday he offered more invaluable free agency tips:
Laker Nation: DeMar DeRozan should be one of the free agents we go after this summer.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 2, 2016
DeRozan will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and many have reported the Lakers will attempt to bring the Southern California native home to Los Angeles. Lou Williams has publicly pondered recruiting his former teammate, but with DeRozan's Toronto Raptors able to offer the most money and already proving they can win a lot of games, the ball will truly be in Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri's court.
Even if the Raptors let DeRozan get away or he desperately wants to return home, there is also still an open question as to whether or not he is the type of player the Lakers should want to max out. Even in a league going smaller by the day, DeRozan lacks the size to play small forward effectively, and all indications point to the Lakers retaining Jordan Clarkson as their starting shooting guard.
Even more worryingly, DeRozan has been brutal so far in the playoffs. The player some fans hope will fill Kobe Bryant's shoes next season has done his best impression of the 2015-16 version so far over seven first-round playoff games against the Indiana Pacers, averaging 17.9 points per game on 31.9 percent shooting as well as seeing declines in his assists and rebounds.
Some of this has to do with being defended by the Pacers' Paul George, but nearly as much of DeRozan's inefficiency is attributable to his declining free throw attempts in the playoffs. After averaging 8.4 trips to the line during the regular season, DeRozan has attempted just 5.6 during the postseason. That doesn't sound like a huge drop-off, but with referees swallowing their whistles for the playoffs and DeRozan's inability to knock down three-pointers or defend consistently, the Raptors have been outscored by 8.9 points per 100 possessions with DeRozan on the court against the Pacers.
Much like Kobe before him, DeRozan scored 30 points on 32 shots in the game seven that inspired Magic to tweet that the Lakers should sign him, and he would help the Lakers win more regular season games next season. The Lakers have gobs of cap space, but it's far from a sure thing that making DeRozan a cornerstone going forward would be a good decision.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.