One of the biggest weaknesses for the Los Angeles Lakers over the past few years has been the small forward position. Although Nick Young has been a decent addition off the bench, the veteran journeyman isn’t the answer which has led rumors the team will attempt to trade the sixth man in the off-season.
Fortunately, there may be a few options for the Lakers in free agency this summer. One of those options appears to be UCLA product Arron Afflalo who intends to opt out of his contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein:
Arron Afflalo, I’m told, intends to go ahead with plans to opt out this summer, even though a right shoulder injury obviously prevented him from making the post-trade-deadline smash in Portland that he’d hoped.
Afflalo will be looking for long-term security after opting out of his deal with the Blazers. The veteran forward was set to make $7.9 million next season, but may be able to earn more annually with the Lakers possibly expressing interest this summer.
As for the Blazers, the franchise that was seemingly on the rise may take some serious blows during the off-season. Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge will become an unrestricted free agent and it appears more and more likely he’s considering leaving Portland. Los Angeles will take a shot at landing Aldridge along with potentially aiming for Afflalo or fellow small forward Wesley Matthews.
It would be safe to say Afflalo’s fate in Portland will be determined by what the team intends to do with Matthews. Before going down with a torn Achilles tendon back in March, Matthews was one of the best three-point shooters in the league and a value asset for the Blazers.
With Matthews’ severe injury shedding doubt on his future, Afflalo could simply sign a long-term deal with Portland. The team will be determined to re-sign Aldridge, but will have to make decision on whether what to do with Matthews and Afflalo.[divide]