clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Who should the Lakers avoid signing in free agency?

New, comments

Los Angeles has a lot of rumored targets, but who should they stay away from?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to essentially every major free agent on the market at this point. The team may not be getting a meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, but it looks like they will at least get to pitch just about anyone else they want.

But what kind of players should the Lakers be targeting exactly? Right now the team appears well equipped for a more methodical rebuild, so do they really need to try and go for quick fixes in free agency?

Even if the answer is yes, the Lakers can't sign all of these players, even in a world where they all wanted to sign in Los Angeles. So who should the team stay away from? Our staff of writers attempted to answer these questions in our latest roundtable:

Do you think the Lakers should chase big fish in free agency, or sit back and mostly supplement their young core?

The Great Mambino:

It all depends on what your definition of a "big fish" is. There's obviously the All-Stars, guys like Kevin Durant, Al Horford and DeMar DeRozan. But there's also other free agents that are going to fetch $20 million dollar deals, such as Nicolas Batum, Harrison Barnes and Hassan Whiteside.

For the Lakers, going after the All-Star group seems to be a foolish errand--those players are looking to join organizations with better situations than on already-playoff bound teams such as the Thunder, Hawks and Raptors. If it's go after those guys or do nothing, you do nothing if you're the Lakers.

However, I'd consider deals to Whiteside, Bismack Biyombo and Barnes moves that would supplement their young core. With all of these players in their 20s, I'd definitely consider their timelines and upside much closer to the team the Lakers have at the moment. LA should place a significant emphasis on trying to acquire a player of this ilk.

Daman Rangoola:

Given what we know about about the big fish such as Kevin Durant, it is clear that the Lakers are not quite attractive enough today to have a real shot at them. In that case, I would definitely recommend Mitch Kupchak and company prioritize supplementing their core at this time.

This isn't to say I'm recommending the Lakers be conservative. Cap space has never been less valuable, especially with the cap projected to rise by another large amount next summer, it's going to be truly hard to commit to a "bad" contracts that the team couldn't just move next summer if the Lakers get indication that a big free agent is interested in the team and they need to clear space. As an example, both the Spurs and Warriors have meetings with Kevin Durant - and neither currently have the cap space for it.

Chinmay Vaidya:

The Lakers should first look for free agents that will supplement their young core, but always be ready to go for the big name. Remember DeAndre Jordan waiving his commitment? That rule doesn't just apply to players. LA can pursue players that fit and in the event that a big name free agent does want to sign, the Lakers can go back on any previous commitments that would hinder signing the big name.

For example, going back on a commitment to Kent Bazemore in order to sign Kevin Durant is just a good basketball move. It's not exactly ethical and it certainly won't buy the Lakers any goodwill, but this is not an ethics or goodwill business. Like the Mamba said, friends come and go but banners hang forever. The Lakers always go for banners.

Sabreena Merchant:

I think the Lakers should supplement their young core in free agency, but that doesn't necessarily preclude going after big fish. Kevin Durant would be a marvelous addition to any franchise, including here in Los Angeles, and the team should absolutely pursue a meeting with him just in case. He's a game-changer.

Hassan Whiteside is also one of the bigger draws in free agency this summer, and he is an excellent fit with the pieces the Lakers already have in place, so he also fulfills both criteria, as does someone like Nic Batum. Although many of us have been critical of the Lakers' process in recent years when they've waited out the major stars, that doesn't mean the team shouldn't pursue those talents. The front office just needs to be mindful of how realistic these pursuits are and pivot quickly to avoid losing out on younger players such as Solomon Hill, Bismack Biyombo or Evan Fournier.

Truthfully, this may not even be the worst summer to miss out on free agents, given the paucity of stars in this class compared to next offseason.

I don't think those things are necessarily mutually exclusive. The best of the "big fish" options are the ones who will supplement the young core the best -- to wit, the basketball gods could hardly have engineered a center who's a better fit for Julius Randle and Luke Walton's offense than Al Horford -- but even if you mean that the Lakers should aim lower for more modest acquisitions, they have so much cap space they can pursue all of these aims simultaneously.

Yes, they still shouldn't fall into the trap of chasing unrealistic scenarios and should read the writing on the wall appropriately (read: Kevin Durant isn't coming here anytime soon, so stop trying to get a meeting with him), but the fatal error of the past few summers was related to their unwillingness to let go of their dreams of landing the big fish when they only had enough space for one significant acquisition. That's not the case this summer, so if the team wants to charge after the likes of Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside, or otherwise, have at it.

Ben Rosales:

I don't think those things are necessarily mutually exclusive. The best of the "big fish" options are the ones who will supplement the young core the best -- to wit, the basketball gods could hardly have engineered a center who's a better fit for Julius Randle and Luke Walton's offense than Al Horford -- but even if you mean that the Lakers should aim lower for more modest acquisitions, they have so much cap space they can pursue all of these aims simultaneously.

Yes, they still shouldn't fall into the trap of chasing unrealistic scenarios and should read the writing on the wall appropriately (namely, Kevin Durant isn't coming here anytime soon, so stop trying to get a meeting with him), but the fatal error of the past few summers was related to their unwillingness to let go of their dreams of landing the big fish when they only had enough space for one significant acquisition. That's not the case this summer, so if the team wants to charge after the likes of Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside, or otherwise, have at it.

Who is the one free agent the Lakers should not sign under any circumstances?

SoCalGal:

Dwight Howard. That is all.

Mambino:

Chandler Parsons. He's an extremely talented player, when healthy, which seems to be the greatest caveat with him these days. Parsons has had recurring knee troubles over the past two seasons, a scary thought for a player that's going to command close to a max contract.

Beyond that, on a personnel level, I don't see where he fits in with the Lakers. The team just drafted Brandon Ingram to play small forward and both Larry Nance, Jr. and Julius Randle should be sopping up most minutes at the PF position. The Lakers certainly need more talent, but I just don't see how Parsons fits into the puzzle.

Rangoola:

Dwight Howard. I can talk myself into players I don't think are a good fit for the team such as DeMar DeRozan or players I don't enjoy watching such as Harrison Barnes, but I can never talk myself into Dwight Howard on the Lakers again. While it may be personal, and petty, and he would fill a need at center, I'm secure enough with my pettiness to stand by it.

Vaidya:

Harrison Barnes, and I broke down why here.

Merchant:

I assume Dwight Howard will be a popular name here, but I can't imagine there's any interest from his perspective, so I'll go with DeMar DeRozan. He's inefficient, way too expensive, and hasn't shown the ability to produce in the postseason - not exactly the kind of player you want to invest in as a franchise star.

Rosales:

Harrison Barnes. He simply makes no sense with this current core now that Brandon Ingram is here. Prior to the Lakers' good fortune in the lottery, there was a rather tortured argument that he was worth the leap of faith since the team's hole at the three was really that big, so Barnes' supposed upside was something worth gambling on if the bigger small forward options went elsewhere.

The Lakers now have a premier prospect at the position they're going to focus on developing, so if the team is going to chase a three, it'd better be someone who's so good that displacing Ingram is worth the overall benefit to the team's bottom line (in terms of wins) and insomuch as that player's presence helps out the rest of the young core's development.

To be sure, that's not Barnes in this instance. He's a really, really limited player at the three who needs to be spoon-fed opportunities at the spot, and the only instance in which he's going to create is when he's placed as a small ball four, also known as the deepest position on the Lakers' roster.

His serviceable defense at either spot does nothing to dispel the overall points of this argument either. Even going after DeMar DeRozan, the oft-criticized scapegoat of the Raptors' playoff run, would make more sense if only since DeRozan could help ease D'Angelo Russell and Ingram's playmaking burden until they're ready to assume the reins. There's no area in which Barnes could help in a similarly impactful fashion.