Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers made a splash by signing the biggest superstar, LeBron James. True to the Lakers tradition of drama and flamboyance, the tabloid news was almost non-stop, from the suspensions to the injuries to the unceremonious stepping down of the President of basketball operations and departure of the head coach. Nothing seems surprising anymore to the Lakers fanbase.
Having lost a significant bunch of young talent in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, the Lakers have an urgent need to fill the void in their roster, especially when they have wagered their future couple of years away to the Pelicans by gifting them the draft picks for years to come.
With LeBron James likely playing his frequent position of small forward, Anthony Davis anchoring the power forward position, Kyle Kuzma sliding between shooting guard to power forward position and JaVale McGee pivoting the center position, the void is clear. The Lakers roster now lacks a good point guard, preferably an All-Star player. They will need to fill this hole if they want to maximize their chances this upcoming season.
For a start, the elite guards would be Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Based on the fast-paced style that Lakers are accustomed to playing, all the players met the criteria with varying degrees. Kyrie wins at most fronts due to his familiarity with LeBron’s game, his championship experience, clutch DNA and his open inclination to play with the Brow. Kemba Walker is a less flashy and more mellow version of Kyrie with less personality quirkiness which makes Kemba an easiest star player to integrate with the new roster. Fewer egos, less drama, smoother transition. Based on the monetary requirement, the price tag of Kyrie and Kemba are definitely going to be a maximum contract.
Next, we look at the bigger name second-tier guards: D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. Current All-Star, D’Angelo, has the highest cache in terms of youth and potential. He would definitely be vying for a maximum contract should he have any intentions of returning as a Laker. However, it awaits to be seen if the new Lakers brass could reformat their past negative appraisal of D’Angelo, which led to their dismissal of him in a trade package a few years ago. Therefore, D'Angelo is a far stretch at the moment.
Rajon Rondo is a former NBA All-Star and a Champion. He is also a proven veteran who can help teach the younger players how to be a professional and learn the various schemes faster. Rajon’s contract is the most expensive of this group, standing at 14 million. In terms of veteran leadership, Derrick Rose is more than capable as they have helped lead their former teams into the playoffs. Derrick also has a salary that is significantly lower than Rajon. Another point of consideration is the glaring caveat for two players in this group.
The injury tendency for Derrick and Ricky, which have sidelined both in various seasons, makes them more precarious for this free agency. So you could say that this second tier is a gamble play for the Lakers if they wish to have a chance of solid contribution with the need to bear some forms of risks.
Other second-tier point guards that the Lakers can consider in free agency include Patrick Beverley and Darren Collison. The obvious advantage of this tier of players is the wallet-friendly price tag. The contracts for these players range from a veteran minimum of 2.4 million to a decent bench player salary of the range of 5 million. The flip side of things is that these players are not star players. The Lakers probably cannot expect to receive big contributions from them in terms of nightly points per game or consistent rebounding or playmaking.
With such a buffet of choices, the Lakers not only need to plan their next acquisition carefully but also keep in mind the type of contract to carve out. Staying nimble and adaptable to changes is key. To stay relevant and be on a win-now mode, the need for financial flexibility and short time-frame contracts is of paramount importance. Hopefully, with such foresight, the Lakers can continue their climb up into the playoff race in no time.