Let's talk Free Agency
With the NBA Finals now set to take place between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat, there are some questions now surrounding the Lakers about what they will do in the upcoming NBA Draft and Free Agency. Moving past the draft for a moment, I think I have some ideas on who the Lakers could bring in. Moving aside Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, those are pretty much a given. But here are 7 options for the Lakers in free agency.
1. D'Angelo Russell
Moan and groan about his performance in the Western Conference Finals all you want Lakers fans, D'Angelo Russell is still the best option available for the Lakers and really it's not like they can simply just let him walk for nothing anyways. The Lakers acquired Russell along with Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt at this year's deadline and it was almost a hand-in-glove fit with Russell in his 2nd tenure with the Lakers, especially alongside Anthony Davis.
Russell this season as a member of both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers posted 17 points and about 6 assists. He shot career highs across the board in an 82 game stretch. He showed up big time on numerous occasions in the playoffs against the Grizzlies and Warriors. The stench he left in the Western Conference Finals is noticable but I do not believe it was big enough for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers Front Office to simply Dillon Brooks DLo in free agency (not bring him back under any circumstances)
An extension for Russell at a max is pretty much off the table going forward, and Russell knows that. A 2 year deal worth about $20-22 per year is reasonable for both sides.
2. Naz Reid
Now let's assume the Lakers do in fact keep D'Angelo Russell. Then targeting Naz Reid would certainly make Russell, Beasley and Vanderbilt very happy as Reid has been a member of their team for the last 2.5 years. Reid being an undrafted player out of LSU was a diamond in the ruff gem the Minnesota Timberwolves had discovered. A very skilled post player who has sneaky athleticism and could stretch the floor. Also a determined rim protector at times. Issue with Naz Reid is that he sometimes gets outworked on the boards. But would be a perfect compliment either behind or next to Anthony Davis.
The question with Reid is how much would be demanding in the off-season. Averaging about 11 points and 5 rebounds this season, Naz has not yet averaged over 20 minutes per game in his 4 year career. Weird for such a talented offensive big.
3. Jordan Clarkson
Time to check in on the former Lakers young core! First with Thomas Bryant, then came D'Angelo Russell. Hey how would a reunion with Jordan Clarkson feel Lakers fans? In all seriousness, the Lakers could certainly use a scoring guard off the bench like Clarkson (if they are keeping Russell and letting Dennis Schroder walk). Clarkson has developed fabulously since becoming a member of the Utah Jazz and even earned a Sixth Man of the Year honors a couple years back.
Like Naz Reid, the question with Clarkson is how much is he going to demand and will the Lakers be able to afford him.
4. Yuta Watanabe
This scenario for the Lakers may end up being unlikely but boy would I welcome it. Yuta Watanabe would be the perfect LeBron James compliment player. An instant long range threat who for a while was shooting 50% from 3 on a good number of attempts per game. He's also developing other aspects of his game.
Unfortunately for him, he began to slowly see his minutes dwindle in Brooklyn but the spark he provided early on could get teams to catch his eye as a shooter. The Lakers can easily find the suitable amount of money to get him as well.
5. Gabe Vincent
Maybe a little too early to talk about players who are in the NBA Finals but according to reports, the Lakers have interest in Gabe Vincent. This would obviously be the D'Angelo Russell/Dennis Schroder replacement if the Lakers are about to get him. Vincent is entering unrestricted free agency this season and has been a pivotal piece to the Heat's success this season. If the Lakers want to try to grab Vincent, the Heat would probably be looking to get something back for him in return. A likely Gabe Vincent for D'Angelo Russell sign and trade could be in play.
6. Kevin Love
I think we've reached that stage in his career where Kevin Love isn't going to demand any large amounts of money. A former All-Star teammate of LeBron James, Love has carved out a role with the Heat that unfortunately wasn't used often in the series against the Boston Celtics. But having a stretch big who is still a capable rebounder and throws some insane outlet passes could be beneficial for the Lakers.
7. Malik Beasley
Malik Beasley was a part of the Lakers trade deadline turnaround and he was brought in to be that elite marksman the Lakers needed. He struggled heavily to find his footing with the Lakers and immediately lost his role with the team. However, it's not really his fault. Beasley is a player you have to run shooting plays for because he simply can't get a shot off just from one pass. Teams now focus on him because he is very capable of stringing 6 threes in a row.
The Lakers hardly ran shooting players for players not named Austin Reaves which damaged Beasley's game greatly. However, I believe with a full training camp with the Lakers, Beasley could easily be an impactful player for the Lakers next season