The end of the 2015-16 NBA season is drawing near for the Los Angeles Lakers. Only eight games remain for Los Angeles as the team heads into their matchup against the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Once the season is over, the Lakers brass will focus on the upcoming NBA Draft while holding onto hope the team can keep their lottery pick. About a week after the draft, NBA free agency will get underway with Los Angeles expected to be aggressive in pursuing free agents.
DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors may turn out to be one of those free agents with the Lakers being strong candidates to sign the two-time NBA All-Star, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
“DeMar DeRozan is a very, very likely candidate for the Lakers,” Ding said. “He’s from L.A., he’s gonna be a free agent. He loves Kobe. He grew up idolizing Kobe. So, when you start to look at the options, guys that aren’t afraid to follow in Kobe’s footsteps, DeRozan is not [afraid]. He would be a great add.”
DeRozan will be one of many players the Lakers will likely show interest in once the free agency period begins on July 1. Superstar Kevin Durant is expected to be at the top of the team’s list of free agent targets, but DeRozan won’t be far behind and could be the most realistic option for Los Angeles among the stars available.
The 26-year-old guard has a player option for the 2016-17 NBA season with the Raptors and is expected to opt out of his deal in order to pursue a lucrative long-term contract in Toronto or elsewhere. LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan will all be in the same position this season with the majority of these players likely testing the free agency or angling for a new contract with their current teams.
Notable unrestricted free agents include Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, Rajon Rondo, Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Ryan Anderson, Joakim Noah, Dwyane Wade and Mike Conley. One or more of these players mentioned could be courted by the Lakers this summer with the team armed with as much as $62.6 million in cap space, which would be more than any team in the league.[H/T to Ross Pickering of Lakerholicz for quote transcription]