When the NBA trade deadline came and went with General Manager Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers not making a move, all eyes turned to the playoffs. Then as new online bookmakers were taking bets, the NBA Season was unexpectedly cut short, and the entire league moved into a period of uncertainty.
Whether the league resumes or not, what we do know is that the 2020 NBA free-agent market will be rich with players who could help Los Angeles, including their own Anthony Davis, and players like Draymond Green, Mike Conley, Serge Ibaka, and DeMar DeRozan.
While the current season and playoffs are being sorted out, we look at how the free-agent market may take shape and the potential options the Lakers may have when things return to normal.
Here’s what we believe are the most likely targets for the Lakers.
With LeBron James signed through 2024, the conventional wisdom is that Davis opts out of his current contract, but re-signs in Los Angeles, a deep-pocketed franchise, that has a perennial championship mentality.
Per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register,
“Most in league circles believe the work is largely done – that Los Angeles is where Davis wanted to be, LeBron James is the teammate he wanted to have, and that the Lakers have done enough to sell him on a future with the franchise.”
Make no mistake, even when James hangs up his sneakers, the Lakers are in a position to contend for championships every season with Davis in the fold making him a must-sign for the team.
The former 1st overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft is a game-changer. Davis averages almost 27 points and 9.4 rebounds per game during his first season in Los Angeles. He is shooting 51.1 percent from the field, 84.4 percent from the free-throw line, and plays solid defense. He is a cornerstone player, and he will only be 27 years old next season.
Should Davis opt-out of his current deal as expected, the Lakers would have to offer a max contract to retain him. Recall that Los Angeles went all-in to acquire him, sending their entire young core to New Orleans sans Kyle Kuzma last summer. This offseason they have the cap space, and one must believe a willingness to do anything and everything to convince Davis to stay with Los Angeles.
It is a good bet he will.
It has been a series of setbacks for the controversial big man, who suffered a full rupture of his Achilles tendon in a game vs the Houston Rockets while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. At the time, DeMarcus Cousins was arguably the best center in the entire league and was just months away from free agency.
Instead of a mega-deal, he signed a one-year contract with the Golden State Warriors, appearing in some late-season games and the playoffs in a limited capacity. “Boogie” then signed another one-year deal with the Lakers, only to tear his ACL in a pre-season shootaround prior to the start of the season.
The 5th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft is a force when healthy. The idea of joining James and Davis on a Laker’s team which could afford to play him sparingly would probably be appealing both to him and the team. However, much will hinge on if the Lakers re-sign Dwight Howard, who has been surprisingly good in his second tenure with the team. Should Howard stay, Cousins will likely sign elsewhere.
After suddenly retiring after the 2019 NBA season, Darren Collison been linked to the Lakers for some time now. Speculation peaked as the season inched towards the March 1st deadline to qualify for the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but the veteran guard announced in February that he won’t return to the NBA this season, informing teams that the timing isn’t right for him.
From the Lakers’ perspective, Collison is a strong fit and would likely be one of the better additions they could make in the offseason should he decide to return to the NBA. Collison has always been a solid playmaker, a reliable spot-up shooter with range (a career 39.4 percent three-point shooter), and most importantly a point guard who can take care of the ball.
At 33 years old, Collison should still have enough game left in the tank, however, he’s said that he remains unsure if he ever will come back.
It is no secret that the Lakers will be looking to add a playmaker in the offseason, and Goran Dragic would be a huge upgrade over Rajon Rondo or Alex Caruso. Even at 34-years-old, the Slovenian is still a starting point guard in the league. Also, like Collison, Dragic is a player who can take care of the ball and who can spot up and shoot from beyond the three-point arc (a career 36.4 percent three-point shooter).
The veteran point guard would likely be amenable to signing in Los Angeles if the team could get the money to work. A team-friendly contract would likely make the Lakers a finals favorite over both the Clippers and Warriors next season. If Dragic values a title shot over contract dollars, Los Angeles could lure him out of Miami.