The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be major players in the free agent market this summer, with over $60 million in cap space available to spend. Unfortunately, thanks to a new TV deal flooding the league with cash, roughly two-thirds of the league will have enough money available to offer a maximum contract to a player.
The Lakers badly want to climb out of the league’s cellar, and as happy as they are to have the number two pick in Thursday’s draft, they know that the fastest way back to contention is by signing an impact free agent. In spite of the stiff competition, they will vigorously pursue every player that they believe can take them to the next level.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Al Horford is one of the players they will be targeting:
Free Agency Rumble: Orlando, Detroit and the Lakers are all among the teams that intend to make a run at Atlanta big man Al Horford.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2016
Horford, a 30-year-old center with four All-Star appearances to his name, has spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks. With multiple teams happy to offer up max deals, it’s widely assumed that Horford will prioritize signing with a franchise that is ready to win now.
On the surface, that would appear to eliminate the Lakers from consideration, but Los Angeles does have the advantage of having enough cap room to offer two max deals. In theory, that means that they could bring in Horford and another player, like perhaps DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, or if we dare to dream, Kevin Durant or LeBron James.
Adding any two of those players to the Lakers young core of Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and presumably, Duke’s Brandon Ingram could potentially put the team back in playoff contention. It’s a long shot, and the competition for free agents will be fierce, but adding a player of Horford’s quality would go a long way towards bringing the Lakers back to the playoffs.