The Los Angeles Lakers are getting ready to face another season where they'll try to put up solid performances and see if they can compete for a championship once again. The Purple and Gold know that they made big mistakes last season, and it's time to fix them, but they don't have the flexibility to do so.
Still, if a team can work its magic in the NBA, that's the Lakers, and they're reportedly targeting a host of players to bolster their ranks, but not every player on their list will actually land in Los Angeles this summer. Yet, they aren't losing hope and have identified targets for this offseason.
Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes that they have eight players to pursue with their midlevel exception. Of course, some are more likely to sign with the team than others, but they have some interesting names there.
The Lakers know their options on the free-agent market are likely going to be limited, especially with regard to 3-and-D wings. But that isn’t going to stop them from trying to lure higher-priced free agents to take a discount with the appeal of a starting role, heavy minutes and the spotlight and exposure that comes with playing for the Lakers (with Malik Monk’s next contract potentially being an example of the bump a player gets playing in Los Angeles).
The Lakers have a strong interest in retaining Monk, but it will depend on both his market and the quality of 3-and-D wings available to Los Angeles, according to league sources. Players the Lakers will target with their full taxpayer midlevel exception include Otto Porter Jr., Nicolas Batum, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Mo Bamba and Danuel House Jr., according to multiple league sources. Players the Lakers will be interested in for the partial midlevel exception or minimum contracts include Nemanja Bjelica, Jeremy Lamb, Jevon Carter and Juan Toscano-Anderson, according to league sources.
Here is a tiered ranking of the Lakers’ top options in free agency. Unrealistic targets include Batum, Bruce Brown Jr., P.J. Tucker, Gary Payton II, Chris Boucher, Isaiah Hartenstein, Kevon Looney, Bobby Portis, Mitchell Robinson and Donte DiVincenzo.
This offseason appeared to be a very entertaining one for the Lakers after all the rumors placing Kyrie Irving at Crypto.com Arena. However, now the picture looks very different, and the team is keeping Russell Westbrook on the roster while looking for more additions to compete next season. It's still unclear how bad or good this team will be next season, but they're trying to make the right moves to at least make the playoffs.