2016 NBA Off Season Preview: Los Angeles Lakers


Los Angeles Lakers

2015-2016 Record: 17-65
Projected Maximum Cap Space: $62,613,020.00

Players under contract for 2016-2017

G Lou Williams ($7,000,000)
GF Nick Young ($5,443,918)
G D'Angelo Russell ($5,332,800)
F Julius Randle ($3,267,120)
F Larry Nance Jr. ($1,207,680)
GF Anthony Brown ($874,636)

Unrestricted Free Agents

C Roy Hibbert
FC Brandon Bass
FC Ryan Kelly
F Metta World Peace
C Robert Sacre
C Tarik Black
G Jordan Clarkson
G Marcelo Huertas


2015-2016 Recap

The Lakers franchise has been in existence since 1948. And never, ever, has the team finished with a worse record. In fact, this is by far the worst three year stretch of futility in franchise history. Since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1960, they have never suffered through three losing seasons in a row. Kobe Bryant kept the Lakers relevant with his farewell tour, and a few young players were able to develop. Other than that, nothing to see here.

Players Under Contract

The new look Lakers are led by the team's last two top draft picks, D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. Randle bounced back from a tough leg injury to play in 81 games and average a double double. Randle is not much of a defender, but should be a very solid scorer going forward. He has the look of a David Lee type on offense.

Russell started off very slow, admitted that the NBA was too much for him, got into a mysterious issue where he recorded a conversation with Nick Young, and ended the season hot, including a career high 39 point performance on March 1.

Larry Nance was a surprise first round pick but looks like a future rotational player, thanks to his hustle and strong rebounding ability. He could make it as a 7th or 8th man on a playoff team. Anthony Brown was another rookie who got minutes here and there, and showed the ability to knock down the three pointer.

Nick Young and Lou Williams are the two veterans under contract. Williams had a fantastic year, and put up virtually the same stats as he did during his fantastic Raptors campaign. Reasonably priced at 7 million per year, he is one of the top bench scorers in the league.

Young had his worst season as a pro, shooting only 34% from the field and offering nothing else of note. If he is not scoring at a good clip, he is worthless, and his career looks to winding down. Unfortunately for the Lakers, he is still signed through 2018.

Free Agents

The Lakers free agent group is composed mostly of expiring contracts and fringe NBA players, with one exception.

Jordan Clarkson, a mid second round pick in 2014, quickly looked like one of the best rookies in his class, and he has gotten better since then. One of the perks of being a second round pick is you can make that big NBA contract quicker, and Clarkson should be in line for a monster raise after leading the team in scoring and minutes as a second year player. The Lakers are flush with cap space and developed him, so I doubt they let him go.

Free Agent Targets

You name the free agent, and Los Angeles will be in on him. They will place calls to Kevin Durant and LeBron James. I doubt those two will be interested in an uncertain situation, but nearly any other free agent is game.

I could see the Lakers going after the following three players;

DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan is a Los Angeles native and is the 20 point per game scorer the Lakers need. His game is not perfectly fit for today's NBA. He is not a three point shooter and will be another player fighting for the ball with Clarkson and Russell, but his skill set is attractive for a team that needs buckets.

Harrison Barnes. Barnes is a restricted free agent, and the Warriors have desires of going after Kevin Durant. Los Angeles has his old head coach, Luke Walton, and the cap space to make him an offer the Warriors cannot afford to match. Barnes has played in the shadows thus far in his career, and might want a bigger spotlight.

Festus Ezeli. The Lakers poach yet another Walton familiar player away from the division rival Warriors. Teams are always desperate for size, and Ezeli could realistically get 7 or 8 million dollars a year. A rebounder and shot blocker, he would be a nice fit next to Randle.

That would give the Lakers a starting five of Ezeli, Randle, Barnes, DeRozan and Russell with Williams, Clarkson and either Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons coming off the bench.

Trade Proposal

Los Angeles Lakers trade G D'Angelo Russell, F Julius Randle, F Anthony Brown and 2016 first round pick to Sacramento Kings for C DeMarcus Cousins, C Kosta Koufos, G Darren Collison

Building around youth is one way to go. Of course, this is Los Angeles. Jack Nicholson does not pay thousands of dollars to watch a young team win 17 games. The Lakers could opt to trade assets to accelerate the rebuilding process with a legit superstar.

DeMarcus Cousins would cost the Lakers a pretty penny, but the division rival Kings may just bite at this proposal. Cousins is the best center in basketball, and the Lakers have made a living off of superstar centers controlling the paint. Even with Cousins on the roster, Los Angeles could sign the aforementioned free agents, giving the team a possible starting five of Cousins, Ezeli, Barnes, DeRozan, Clarkson with Koufos, Nance, Williams and Collison off the bench.

NBA Draft

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Lakers landing in the top two. There is a monumental drop off in talent after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. The Lakers will select whoever the 76ers do not. Whoever it is could also be used as trade bait to land a superstar quality player.

In Summary

Once an unfathomable thought, the Lakers are clearly the "other" Los Angeles team. However, now that the Kobe Bryant burden has been lifted from the franchise, they can move in a new direction. Los Angeles has the most cap space in the league, three young players to build around and the number two overall pick. Not to mention Luke Walton was an outside the box, inspiring head coach hire. This could be the off season that Los Angeles finally gets back on track.

Jonathan Carrano

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