The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be relatively quiet in free agency, and have even acknowledged on multiple occasions that their primary objective is preserving cap space for the summer of 2018.
But with the team coming off of another trip to the lottery following a 26-56 season, they obviously have multiple needs to address in free agency. In a wide-ranging chat with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, general manager Rob Pelinka outlined two key skillsets the team wants to add.
“The biggest two areas that we’re focused on are shooting and defense,” Pelinka said. “We have two roster spots left. With those two roster spots, we’re going to be looking at shooting and defense.”
Those are indeed key parts of basketball! The only problem is that the Lakers’ means with which to do so are limited.
The Lakers officially brought back David Nwaba this week, which actually brings their roster to 14 players if they sign all of their draft picks — one short of the regular season maximum of 15 plus two two-way contracts — meaning there is at least a chance Pelinka tipped his hand given that Tarik Black has a non-guaranteed year of his contract the team has to decide on this week. Either that, or he was referencing one of the team’s picks signing a two-way deal, or he just misspoke.
The Lakers are also reportedly “leaning towards” bringing back-up point guard Tyler Ennis back in free agency.
Possible slip and Ennis aside, if the Lakers have just two roster spots most likely towards the end of their bench, the chances they’re able to add players that bring both shooting and defense are small, doubly so if they want to keep their cap sheet clean for 2018.
The Lakers do need shooting, especially given that their most proven NBA shooter from 3-point range right now is Brook Lopez. They also DEFINITELY need a dose of defense after posting their worst defensive efficiency in franchise history last season.
They just may have a difficult time adding both given the constraints of their roster and their grand plans for 2018. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers new front office attempts to walk that tightrope in their first ever free agency period.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here or listen to our thoughts on free agency below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.