The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a disappointing defeat to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, marking the first time LeBron James has exited the postseason this early in his career. Anthony Davis was not healthy and neither was LeBron, meaning the Suns took care of business in 6 games. Looking ahead to next season, the Lakers have some changes to do.
First of all, the roster needs new pieces with players who want to win an NBA championship. The Lakers will have a slight salary cap problem if they re-sign the likes of Denis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Alex Caruso. These are capable role players who will be big pieces for next season's title race. This means the Lakers can only go for players who want to win a title and will take a pay cut to help LeBron James win his 5th ring; similar to what Blake Griffin did for Brooklyn.
The Lakers are also unlikely to offer Andre Drummond a contract unless he accepts a veteran's minimum contract, meaning they will need to go out and sign a big man alongside a capable playmaker. Here are the 4 buyout targets for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.
4. Kevin Love
Kevin Love will very likely reach a buyout deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played 24.9 MPG this year, averaging 12.2 PPG and not looking like the franchise star the team needs to improve. Love will likely never make an All-Star Team for the rest of his career, but he can play a valuable role as a shooter and rebounder for a championship team.
With Andre Drummond's departure likely and a solid relationship between Love and LeBron, this deal could work out for both sides. Cleveland Cavaliers need to build around Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, while the Lakers need a consistent shooter with championship experience.
3. Steven Adams
Both Andre Drummond and Marc Gasol were not the answers at the center position, and with the way Anthony Davis gets beat up every year, they need a powerhouse to absorb paint punishment. Steven Adams might be the strongest player in the NBA and his physicality will work well alongside Davis.
Steven Adams has been in trade rumors all season long because, at age 27, he has plenty more to offer. Averaging 7.6 PPG and 8.9 PPG in only 27.7 MPG, he could be a much better starter for the Lakers instead of Marc Gasol. Adams has plenty of experience playing in a pick n roll in Oklahoma City with Russell Westbrook, so he would be a solid lob partner for LeBron James.
2. Al Horford
In terms of locker room presence and professionalism, Al Horford is the ultimate buyout target for the Lakers. Horford was solid this season by averaging 14.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 27.9 MPG, meaning he is still a starting-caliber center at age 35. For the Lakers, Horford's leadership is exactly what they need along with his skill as a big man.
Al Horford is out of place in Oklahoma City because of his age because the Thunder are in complete rebuild mode with a roster filled with young players. Horford deserves to play his final seasons with a championship contender like the Lakers because he has a lot to offer on defense and as a role player alongside superstars.
1. John Wall
The Houston Rockets made a surprising trade by swapping Russell Westbrook for John Wall, and Wall had a solid season considering he was injured for the past 2 years. Wall averaged 20.6 PPG in 32.2 MPG, and showed flashes of his All-Star self at different points of the season. Wall isn't in his prime anymore, but he is still one of the quickest players in the NBA with the ball in his hands.
John Wall is without a doubt one of the better starting point guards in the NBA if he stays healthy, because he can still get to the rim and be a playmaker. The Lakers didn't find their playmaker in Denis Schroder, and moving him to the bench in favor of 5-time All-Star John Wall would greatly improve their title chances next year. The only issue is John Wall's ability to stay healthy, but in the buyout market, he is a risk worth taking.