Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have pulled of the Anthony Davis trade, their focus now turns to filling out the remaining 10-or-so spots on the roster, and six or seven spots in the rotation. With basically all their draft picks for the next decade heading to New Orleans, Rob Pelinka essentially has two avenues to improve the team: Free agency and trades.
Most have jumped to the fair conclusion that the Lakers have their sights set on a third star to play alongside Davis and LeBron James, but some have wondered whether addressing depth might make more sense. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Lakers are keeping their options open:
The Lakers right now are operating on both fronts. They still hope to chase max players such as Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard, sources say. They also have begun discussing players expected to fetch somewhere in that $10 million-plus range, sources say.
As was covered ad nauseam over the weekend, how much cap space the Lakers might have is very much up in the air. Based on the execution date of this trade and whether Davis waives his trade kicker worth $4 million and change, the Lakers might not have a choice as to which route of team building they’d prefer.
With potentially only $23-ish million in cap space (should the trade be executed on July 6 and Davis not feel like passing up on $4 million free dollars), that would put even D’Angelo Russell’s max contract amount out of reach, let alone a max for Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, etc., thus potentially hampering any starry free agency plans.
Now, that can obviously change. For one thing, the trade isn’t set in stone yet, so the execution date might be pushed back for all we know. For another, guys like Isaac Bonga and Moe Wagner can both be moved to further free up space should an elite-level free agent show interest. But back to the point Lowe made, regarding the tier below superstar free agents.
We know the Lakers have interest in Brook Lopez. He would be a phenomenal fit. If the Lakers want to gamble, they could reunite Davis with DeMarcus Cousins, but spending this much on the front court when the only point guards on the roster currently are Alex Caruso and Bonga doesn’t seem wise.
Seth Curry will likely opt out of his current deal with the Portland Trail Blazers and would provide the shooting this group will need, so he’d be an interesting target. Malcolm Brogdon is a restricted free agent so he’s likely off the table, but if Milwaukee balks at how much it might cost to keep him and Khris Middleton, Brogdon would be about as perfect a fit as you can find.
The Lakers will also need shooters, and guys like Danny Green and JJ Redick seem to make a ton of sense as shooting guards for this team. They might be somewhat one-dimensional, but the spacing they’d provide would make it nearly impossible to guard James and Davis elsewhere on the court.
We can go through names ‘til the cows come home, but one thing to keep in mind here is how poorly Magic Johnson and Pelinka filled out the roster last season. Maybe that was just Johnson being really bad at his job, but it is fair to worry about the responsibility that comes with focusing on the margins when the Lakers are clearly much better at swinging for the fences to acquire superstar talent.
We’ll see which direction they go in, and all this is moot until we find the actual details of the Davis trade, but the Lakers’ work is by no means whatsoever done here. They literally have upwards of 10 more roster spots to fill and will have immense expectations as they attempt to do so. No matter which direction they go, Pelinka has to make good on this trade in ways he did not last season after signing James.
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