The Lakers are in a bit of a rut without Avery Bradley. Bradley has decided not to return for this season due to the Coronavirus, opting to remain with his family instead.
For the Lakers, this is not great news. He was the starting shooting guard who could play both guard positions when needed, hit the open three, and play tough hard nose defense. Luckily for the team, they have some options if they look towards the free agency market.
They can find a direct replacement for Avery Bradley in the form of three shooting guards, and also two other big men to provide support to Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard.
Here are the top five targets for the Los Angeles Lakers right now.
5. Ryan Anderson
While Anderson won’t provide the defensive resistance of Avery Bradley, he can stretch the floor as a power forward or center and can get open looks playing alongside Anthony Davis.
LeBron James will love playing with Ryan Anderson because he is very experienced, knows how to be crafty around the rim, and can get good looks from three. He’s not young anymore and is quite slow at this stage, but he can still be effective in spurts off the bench.
4. Pau Gasol
Lakers Legend Pau Gasol is still a free agent. For many Lakers fans who watched him win two straight NBA titles with the Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant, they would love to have Pau on the team for one more go at the NBA title.
Gasol can score from the inside and from the perimeter and is an experienced defender who can rebound the ball. Even at his age, he can provide some support to the three big men in the Lakers rotation and also provide crucial championship experience.
3. Gerald Green
Gerald Green has revived his career with the Houston Rockets the past few years, but he was recently let go after suffering a setback due to injury. Gerald Green is still a good shooter from three and can really get hot from the perimeter. For the Lakers, replacing Avery Bradley’s shooting is critical so Gerald Green can immediately address this issue
Green won’t be able to play a ton of minutes, but he can provide spurts when he comes in and is always capable of getting hot from three. The Lakers can do a lot worse than signing a veteran shooting guard who truly loves playing the game.
2. Jamal Crawford
It doesn’t make any sense how a player like Jamal Crawford is still a free agent. The man is a professional scorer and has one of the most iconic crossover dribbles the league has ever seen. Jamal Crawford can come in and give energy off the bench, hit threes, and provide some extra juice for his teammates and the crowd.
For the Lakers right now, veteran experience is most important. Jamal Crawford has been in the league for a long time, knows how to score the ball, and LeBron James would appreciate another ball-handler and scorer playing alongside him. For the veteran’s minimum contract, Jamal Crawford is a great addition.
1. J.R. Smith
Last but certainly not least, J.R. Smith is still a free agent. The reunion of Smith and LeBron James would be a funny one, but it might be a crucial one as well. J.R. Smith may have had one of the greatest Finals blunders 2 years ago when he refused to shoot the ball in crunch time in Game One of the NBA Finals against the Warriors.
But still, he is a veteran player who has plenty of playoff experience to his name and we all know what J.R. Smith can do when he’s focused. He can get hot from three, play tough defense, and already has experience playing alongside LeBron James.
If the Lakers want to get a direct replacement for Avery Bradley without worrying about any sort of drop off, a motivated J.R. Smith might be the closest addition they can get.