With the NBA free-agent period just over a month away, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to attempt to woo the top players on the market. Convincing quality talent to join a rebuilding club is never an easy task, but this summer will be even more difficult than most.
Thanks to a salary cap spike, the majority of the league has money to spend, and the free agent crop is remarkably thin. In the midst of the free agent frenzy, the Lakers are expected to focus their attention on centers and wings, both positions of need.
Unfortunately, it seems as though Nicolas Batum, who is arguably the best fit for the Lakers not named Kevin Durant, isn’t particularly keen on leaving the Charlotte Hornets. According to a report by FIBA.com, Batum is expected to quickly agree to terms with the incumbent club when free agency opens in July:
However, it is understood that the French player and the Hornets will quickly agree terms on a new deal and that could give France enough time to obtain insurance for Batum and allow him to take part in some of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament games.
Of course, this sour news was to be expected. The Hornets left the season on the upswing, taking the veteran Miami Heat to seven games before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs. Individually, Batum had a bounce-back year after leaving the Portland Trailblazers, averaging career-highs of 14.9 points and 5.8 assists per game.
For the Lakers, Batum’s lanky versatility would have been a major addition. The team desperately needs a small forward to replace the retired Kobe Bryant, and with DeMar DeRozan sounding likely to stay with the Toronto Raptors, it appears as though the list of available wings is dwindling quickly (though the Lakers may not have as much interest in Derozan as some think).
Still, should the Lakers ultimately select Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft they may be able to get by without a top-flight wing like DeRozan or Batum, though we won’t know for sure until the Lakers’ pick is announced.