The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tough situation. After buying out and waiving the remainder of Luol Deng’s contract, the Lakers are projected to have $38 million in cap space for next summer’s star-studded free agent class, which is great!
By waiving Deng, they also opened up a spot on their now 19-man training camp roster. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the team has “no immediate plan” to fill the vacancy and it’s easy to see why.
With just over a month until the regular season tips off, the free agent pool grows more unimpressive by the day. While there are still a few intriguing names left on the market, there are no clear-cut great options for the Lakers.
In fact, there are more obvious bad fits than there are good ones at this stage of the offseason. We’re going to look at a few of those players and go into why Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka should cross their names off of their free agent wishlist.
1. Dwyane Wade
After Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony signed with the Houston Rockets and LeBron James signed with the Lakers (*fist bump*), Dwyane Wade is the only member of the famed banana boat crew that has yet to sign with a new team. With an open roster spot, the Lakers now have the chance to reunite the once dominant duo of Wade and James.
However, beyond jersey sales and photo ops, there’s no real reason for them to do that.
During the Miami Heat’s first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, Father Prime showed he still has something left in the tank. He even carried the Heat to their lone playoff win in Game 2 with a team-high 28 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
It was vintage D-Wade, but even Wade at his best is a bad fit with this Lakers team.
Arguably the biggest weakness on the roster is 3-point shooting and Wade’s career-high 3-point percentage is 31.7 percent on 3.5 attempts per game (2008-09). Suffice to say, 3-pointers have never been his thing and there’s no reason to believe he’ll start letting them fly (or make them consistently) 15 years into his career.
Wade is still surprisingly decent on defense, posting a positive defensive plus-minus for the 13th time in his career last season, but at 33 years old, he’ll naturally regress on that end at some point, and the Lakers don’t need to gamble on whether or not that happens this year.
Even if everything went right for Wade and he earned a regular spot in head coach Luke Walton’s rotation, that would create a different type of problem. The Lakers have already invested in players that expect to have meaningful roles with the team this season and if those players see their minutes dwindle because of Wade, it could create problems in the locker room (if it’s vets losing out on minutes) or in development (if it’s the young guys).
And that’s without mentioning the awkward dynamic that could be created if Wade (a close friend of James) was the one that was losing out on a bigger role or minutes load than he expected.
Would it be super cool to see Wade and James on the same team again? Of course, but from a strictly basketball standpoint, Wade just doesn’t make sense for the Lakers.
2. Jamal Crawford
Three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford is a walking bucket. Even at 38 years old, Crawford is one of the craftiest players with the ball in his hands the league has ever seen. He’s like the real life Uncle Drew.
Last summer, the Lakers and Crawford had mutual interest following Crawford’s buyout from the Atlanta Hawks. According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, Crawford really liked the idea of playing in the backcourt with Lonzo Ball, who Crawford is a known fan of.
The two parties ultimately decided to go their separate ways, but there’s a chance they revisit those talks within the coming weeks, seeing as Crawford is an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers have an open roster spot. Lakers fans should be hoping that isn’t the case.
Granted, the Lakers need shooting and Crawford is, by all accounts, a shooter, but the type of shooting Crawford brings to the table isn’t what the team needs.
As mentioned previously, Crawford is a gifted ball handler, but his dribbling clinics usually end up in heavily contested shots. According to NBA.com, 47.6 percent of Crawford’s shots came when the closest defender was 2-4 feet away. Of those shots, he only converted 39.7 percent of them.
Additionally, 61 percent of his shots were of the pull up variety. Not ideal for a team looking to run a free flowing offense.
His scouting report on defense is no better. In fact, it might be the worst one in the league. While Crawford has never been known for his defense, he was really, really bad on that end last year, posting the worst real defensive plus-minus (-5.37) in the entire NBA, according ESPN.
Perhaps Crawford wouldn’t be such a bad option as the 13th or 14th guy on the bench, but the fact that he declined his player option worth $4.5 million suggests that he’s still looking for meaningful minutes in the NBA. Unfortunately for Crawford, the Lakers can’t, or at least shouldn’t, offer him that.
3. Chris Bosh
Bosh’s red flags have less to do with his ability and more to do with his availability.
In 2017, Bosh was forced to medically retire from professional basketball due to reoccurring blood clots. Bosh has talked about his desire to come out of retirement as recently as this summer, and in the unlikely event that he’s cleared by a doctor, the Lakers would be the immediate favorites to land the 11-time All-Star.
Not only is Bosh a former teammate of LeBron James, but he’s also a former client of Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. He’s even visited the UCLA Health Training Center a handful of times since Pelinka took over.
Chris Bosh is a guest at Lakers practice today sitting with GM Rob Pelinka. pic.twitter.com/JjnRw8KZlN— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 3, 2017
But even if Bosh, who is 34 years old, can still play at a high level, the risk that comes with him playing is far too great. While Bosh’s blood clots themselves aren’t life threatening with the proper treatment, the NBA won’t allow him, or any player, to play while on blood thinners because of the risk of getting cut while on the court. If Bosh stopped taking the blood thinners, the clots could move into his lungs, like they did in 2015 when they first appeared.
It’s for that reason the chances of him ever playing in the NBA again are slim, but if the opportunity presents itself in the near future, the Lakers should think twice before signing him. As great as it would be to see Bosh on the floor again, his life is more important than a game.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.