In today’s Locked on Lakers, we take a break from player previews to address a very popular topic after the front office stretched Luol Deng’s contract: If the Lakers had their choice of free agent next year, who among Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson or any other name you prefer, would they prefer?
Interestingly enough, the list breaks down quite nicely into three separate tiers.
Tier One: Guys who could be the best player on a title team.
Look, eventually, LeBron James is going to show the effects of age. Maybe. We think.
If that time comes, it would really benefit the Lakers to have a good who could pick up the slack and be the team’s best player or at the very least, mitigate some of the effects that age will — maybe — have on LeBron.
Two guys fit this description: Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
Tier Two: Extremely minor red flags guys.
In this tier, you have the types of players the Lakers would undoubtedly be thrilled to sign, but aren’t quite in the class as the guys mentioned just above.
Again, two players fit in this spot: Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler.
As I wrote earlier today, I find it interesting that the Lakers are looking so closely at Thompson given the nature of player they’ve prioritized since signing LeBron James.
In Butler’s case, well, Thibs. Players who sign a third contract anywhere in the max range simply haven’t been solid investments after playing extended minutes for Tom Thibodeau. The league obviously can’t tell a coach how to do his job, but it does suck that he’s shortened the careers of multiple really talented players.
Tier Three: I mean, if we’re getting desperate...
Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and DeMarcus Cousins are all extremely talented players who would be welcome additions to just about any team. But that isn’t the type of guy the Lakers have on their mind, and while they would make the team better (Middleton especially in terms of fit), I’m not sure even the Lakers would call the signing a success compared to the expectations they’ve laid out for themselves.
As always, this is just a tidbit of the full context given in the show. Listen to the full discussion below and please check out old episodes or guarantee you won’t miss any ever again by subscribing on iTunes.