The Los Angeles Lakers’ aren’t done adding free agents even after signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million deal. With 13 guaranteed contracts for next season, the Lakers have two open roster spots remaining with which to sign free agents (the team also has one two-way contract to dole out after using one on Las Vegas Summer League standout Alex Caruso).
While one of those spots will almost surely go to second-round pick Thomas Bryant, the Lakers still have a gaping hole at back-up point guard.
There is a chance Caruso could grab some of those back-up minutes at the one eventually, but counting on a two-way guy who has played one year in the D-League (now G League) as your primary back-up option is asking for trouble. That’s probably why Lakers executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka said the team isn’t done adding to its roster in their appearances on ESPN during the summer league finals:
Pelinka says they're evaluating some guys for the last two spots of the roster. Says they want to add point guard depth.— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) July 18, 2017
Magic says the Lakers are still deciding on a backup PG. Say he prefers a veteran to help teach Lonzo some of the tricks of the trade.— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) July 18, 2017
The qualifier of being a “veteran” would seem to rule out #LakersTwitter favorite Ian Clark, and would also explain the Lakers’ rumored interest in Rajon Rondo before he signed with the New Orleans Pelicans.
So what veterans are left on the market for the Lakers that do fit the bill? As one would expect in the second half of July, none of them are great.
The Lakers could sign Deron Williams, who is coming off of major struggles for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. They could target Derrick Rose, although doing so would contradict their desire to sign high-character guys. Ramon Sessions is still available, as is opposite-of-fan-favorite Ronnie Price.
Los Angeles’ has also been said to have interest in bringing back Tyler Ennis, although with just three years of experience under his belt he’s not a traditional “veteran.”
The Lakers want to keep their cap sheet clean next summer, which has left them only able to offer one-year deals. While it worked out with Caldwell-Pope, that’s not normally a strategy that leaves a team with incredibly desirable players to choose from.
Having a mentor for Ball could be important, but it’s just as important to understand the Lakers’ options that fit within their plan are limited here, so fans shouldn’t expect whatever signing the team eventually makes to blow them away.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.