Lakers have decisions to Make

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have been eliminated by the Phoenix Suns the Lakers have several decisions to make this off-season. 

Entering this off-season, the Lakers have a total of 11 free agents. These free agents have several question marks. Unfortunately, the team does not have a large sum of money to work with in the off-season. 

At the moment the exact amount of money that the Lakers will be able to spend in the offseason is undetermined. For starters, a major factor in determining how much money they will be able to spend will be based on Montrezl Harrell’s player decision. If Harrell picks up his player option, the Lakers will commit an additional $9 million to him next year, limiting their options even more. 

Another big decision that the Lakers will have to make is what to do with their point guard situation. Last season, Dennis Schroder was their starting point guard. However, earlier this season, Schroder turned down a four-year, $84 million extension from the Lakers. After Schroder’s poor postseason performance, he is expected to receive much less in free agency. 

Harrell and Schroder are the Lakers’ two biggest free agents this off-season. Their decisions will guide the direction that the Lakers choose. If Harrell accepts his player option, the Lakers can look to bring him back and keep the team competitive. The Lakers can also play around with his contract and attempt to trade him for another piece. If the Lakers were to attempt to trade for a player such as Kemba Walker or Ben Simmons, they could offer a valuable trade piece such as Talen Horton-Tucker, and then include Monterzl Harrell to match salaries with the team. However, if Harrell declines his player option as expected, the Lakers will then either have to sign him to a similar deal to that of last year or they will lose him in free agency.

The Lakers can also choose to do a sign-and-trade involving Schroder and Harrell. As an example, if the Lakers want to sign Spencer Dinwiddie or Kyle Lowry, the Lakers can pull off a sign-and-trade with the Nets or Raptors and include Schroder or Harrell. The Lakers would have to agree to a sign-and-trade with a top free agent, because they do not have much money to utilize in free agency. If the Lakers are going to sign somebody for more than the $9.8 mid-level exception, they will have to do a sign-and-trade. However, they are difficult. If they are going to pull off a sign-and-trade, Schroder or Harrell or whomever the Lakers agree to send out, would have to agree with the team that they sign with. So, if the Lakers sign Kyle Lowry and choose to send out Dennis Schroder, Schroder would have to come to an agreement with the Toronto Raptors in order to make a deal work. A sign-and-trade is unlikely for the Lakers, but possible.

Outside of Schroder and Harrell, the Lakers still have several interesting decisions to make with their free agents. Guard Alex Caruso was a solid defender and 3-point shooter for the team last season. Big man, Andre Drummond, has stated that he ‘wants the bag’ in free agency. The Lakers also have to make decisions regarding Talen Horton-Tucker’s contract, Markieff Morris, Marc Gasol, and their other role players.

The most realistic option this off-season is for the Lakers to attempt to bring back Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond with reasonable deals. Then, look out for the Lakers to bring in several role players. Spencer Dinwiddie has stated that he would love to play in Los Angeles. The Lakers are reportedly interested in Derrick Rose, and they have expressed interest in bringing Avery Bradley back. Several Laker fans have advocated for the team to bring back Javale Mcgee or Dwight Howard.

The Lakers have never had issues bringing in veteran free agents, especially while they are competitive like they are right now. Los Angeles is an attractive city because of the environment, fan base, and branding ability for free agents. At the end of the day, look for the Lakers to remain active and competitive this off-season.

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