Young shot 40.4 percent on 3-pointers for the Lakers and was one of the few plus-shooters they fielded in their lineups last season, and if he leaves he’ll leave the Lakers somewhat lacking at the off-guard.
Sure, D’Angelo Russell looks like he can play there some, Jordan Clarkson will vacillate between both guard positions and David Nwaba flashed some potential down the stretch, but the Lakers will likely need at least one more two heading into next season.
Should they acquire that player in free agency this summer? We asked our motley crew of writers.
Should the Lakers sign a shooting guard in free agency?
Chinmay Vaidya: It depends on Nick Young's decision regarding his player option (he is likely to decline). If he does decline, the Lakers should look for a shooting guard to complement its current guard rotation. Guys like Ian Clark and Brandon Rush would be welcome addition while not eating into the young guys' minutes.
The Lakers could also take a flier on James Young, who hasn't produced at the NBA level but has some potential as a shooter. The team is also likely to use its draft pick on a guard.
Sabreena Merchant: Yes, definitely. Assuming Nick Young opts out of his contract, the Lakers shooting guard rotation consists of David Nwaba and Jordan Clarkson, and I'm pretty sure neither of those players is actually a shooting guard.
The Lakers are doing a great disservice to D'Angelo Russell (or whoever their point guard is next year) if they continue to space the floor with below-average shooters. Furthermore, neither of the options are adequate defenders at the two, since Nwaba really isn't big enough to guard the position.
Harrison Faigen: If the intro graf I wrote for this didn’t make it clear, yes I think the Lakers will definitely need another shooting guard. I believe Russell and Clarkson are both best served bouncing back and forth between the guard spots, and while I am as big of a believer in Nwaba as anyone, I also know he’s likely not a full-time option at off-guard.
Because the draft is a crap shoot, I think this leaves the Lakers to look to add at least one shooting guard in free agency, and I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up spending a pretty penny to do so (more on that below).
Anthony Irwin: I’m of the opinion that unless a trade comes along, the Lakers shouldn’t make any major additions to their roster this summer (draft night not included). Yes, they could definitely use shooting and there’s no reason to tank seeing as their pick is automatically conveying next year, but the carrot of Paul George is dangling in front of them.
Any addition that risks cap space moving forward is a legitimate gamble, and there’s no one on the shooting guard market worth taking that risk right now. So, I guess technically the “shooting guard” the Lakers would be adding is D’Angelo Russell, who would be playing more off-ball in Ball’s presence.
If you want the Lakers to sign a shooting guard, who should it be? If you think the team should stand pat, how should they distribute their minutes at the shooting guard position?
Chinmay: If Young opts in, he will likely be the backup shooting guard and sixth man. The Lakers will probably slide D'Angelo Russell into the shooting guard spot assuming they draft a point guard with the second pick. If they add someone like Ian Clark, he'll also get minutes. Most of the minutes at the shooting guard spot will go to Russell, with either Young, Clark or Clarkson supplementing those minutes.
Sabreena: Dion Waiters is my favorite shooting guard on the market, and the only one who projects as a starting 2-guard of the future, especially because he's only 25 years old. However, he may have played himself out of the Lakers' price range with his success in Miami this year.
Some players the Lakers should consider taking fliers on include: Ben McLemore — a restricted free agent, but Buddy Hield is around to take his minutes; James Young — he hasn't done anything, but he's young and hyper-athletic; and Ian Clark, who could be a cap casualty in Golden State.
Harrison: This is admittedly a pie-in-the-sky scenario, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Lakers at least pursue J.J. Redick. Yes, I know what you’re thinking:
“He shot his lowest percentage from three in three years!”
“He’s almost 33-years old and will cost quite a bit!”
“Won’t he be too confused to play when he sees the Lakers’ championship banners uncovered for all of the team’s home games!?!”
All of these are valid concerns, hypothetical straw man, but I also think Redick is such a good shooter the Lakers could look in to trying to pry him from their cross-hall rivals even at the expense of their precious cap space in order to provide sorely needed spacing for their team, especially if they don’t draft Lonzo Ball or move the pick and/or Russell in a trade. The team could also always look to attach an asset to move a bad contract later if they want cap space in 2018.
Again, this likely won’t happen because of all of the variables listed above, but it’s also not impossible to envision a world where the podcast host and basketball enthusiast makes his way out the Clippers’ door while remaining in Los Angeles.
Anthony: Working in the scenario where they wind up with Ball on draft night, Russell becomes their starting shooting guard, moving Clarkson permanently to the bench.
The hope here is that Ball and Russell offer enough shooting to space the floor for each other as they share the responsibility of creating for others in that starting five, and when either of those two head to the bench, they become something closer to a traditional point guard as Clarkson enters the game.
Do you think the Lakers should sign a shooting guard? Let us know in the comments below!