With 26 games remaining in the 2015-16 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the draft lottery for the third consecutive season. While the franchise only has a top-three protected pick as a result of the Steve Nash trade in 2012, they will have a projected $65 million in cap space to pursue free agents.
The biggest name this off-season will be Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, Kevin Durant. While there has been conflicting reports, the Lakers are not considered frontrunners for Durant according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead):
Washington and the Lakers, they are not frontrunners for Kevin Durant. He wants to win a championship. If he leaves Oklahoma – he may end up staying there – Golden State is the team that is worrisome for Oklahoma City. That’s the team that has Kevin Durant’s attention … Kevin Durant wants to win a Championship right away. Either he wants to do that in Oklahoma City, with the group they have, or he’s going to go somewhere he can win a title right away.
While the Lakers may be able to add LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram to their young core, Wojnarowski says Durant is only interested in winning championships at this stage of his career. After making his first and only NBA Finals appearance in 2012, Durant is set to turn 28 years old and is in the prime of his career.
Between now and the off-season, the Lakers will naturally be linked to numerous free agents. With a young core that has shown potential through different points of the season, it will be interesting to see if Los Angeles will be able to land a top free agent and speed up their rebuilding process.