Armed with expiring contracts in Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas, Brook Lopez, Julius Randle and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Los Angeles Lakers are set up with the potential to have the most cap space in the league to offer NBA free agents this summer.
Plus, the team will be able to offer the chance to play alongside a promising young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. Whether or not that will be enough to entice the best players in the league to sign with the Lakers is a matter of some debate.
The franchise’s young players are just that, young, and it’s unclear whether stars in their prime will want to wait around while helping them develop.
Frye might not be one of those stars himself, but he told Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group that the league has seen enough from Ingram, Ball and Kuzma that players will be lining up for the chance to join them in Los Angeles:
“I think you’re going to see a lot of guys this summer who want to play with Lonzo and Kuz and Brandon and guys that they have here and just build from that,” Frye said. “This is a pretty appealing place. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the Lakers and that these young guys are some of the best young guys in the NBA.”
Frye is right about all of those elements being appealing on some level, but it remains to be seen if they’re enough to deem the Lakers the best situation for stars like LeBron James and Paul George.
There has been plenty of speculation about the interest both may or may have in coming to Los Angeles, but past free agent stars have been reticent to play with young players, preferring to join up with more established veterans ready to win right away.
The Lakers are different in that regard, however, because their young group has already shown they know how to play winning basketball. The team might have started the season poorly, but they’ve shown they can lock in defensively at a young age (which is atypical) and been an above .500 team (20-16) in the new year.
Those strides forward still might not be enough for George and James, but Frye’s words at least offer hope for fans that some around the league are taking notice. Either that, or Frye is just being a good soldier who is hoping to show he can help a locker room for one more year when he becomes a free agent himself this summer.
Frye also expressed a willingness to help recruit James and any other free agent(s) if the Lakers are to re-sign him this summer.