The Los Angeles Lakers are down to just four guaranteed contracts on the 2021-22 roster after trading Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and a first-round pick to the Washington Wizards for dynamic point guard Russell Westbrook. So now, they have to deal with a host of impending free agents, including Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Schroder and Horton-Tucker are in two completely different worlds heading into free agency. The Lakers will not be re-signing him — unless it’s a part of a sign-and-trade — and he now has to navigate the open market. Horton-Tucker, meanwhile, is likely one of L.A.’s top free-agent priorities and is a restricted free agent.
Regardless, it appears that both will reportedly be courted by the New York Knicks, who head into this offseason with immense cap space and a desperate need for a point guard, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
The Knicks are mentioned by league sources as a team that has expressed interest in Fournier, while New York has also been linked to Lakers guards Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Evan Fournier would give the Knicks a relatively cheap pure scorer to slot into the shooting guard or small forward position. It wouldn’t greatly affect their cap situation, and they would have the freedom to pursue any point guard they want from there.
Schroder is a natural fit with the Knicks, but it’s a matter of if the Knicks see him as their top option or a fall-back. If he’s their top choice, a deal likely materializes quickly, and the Lakers lose him for nothing. On the other hand, if he’s towards the bottom, beneath players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Chris Paul, and others, the Lakers gain some leverage.
The Knicks could also attempt a much bolder move, giving Horton-Tucker a significantly backloaded four-year offer sheet that forces the Lakers hand in matching. Either way, how the Knicks approach free agency could have a big influence on the Lakers.
Lakers fans should watch for Schroder’s and Horton-Tucker’s rumored New York connection. If it turns out to be nothing, L.A. could be in a very good spot.
DeMar DeRozan still tied to L.A.
Even though it seemed that any momentum toward DeMar DeRozan joining the Lakers was dead, it’s possible that it’s being considered. Of course, DeRozan would need to take a near $20-million pay cut to make it happen, but there is still rumored interest that he would forgo significant salary to help L.A. with their championship chase.