So where do the Lakers go from here?

I’ve been meaning to write something about the Lakers since our starting center from last year fled; I just wanted to see whom they signed in the days following. Since, Chris Kaman has been signed to start at center and Jordan Farmar has been signed to play backup point guard. Two good signings in my opinion considering the Lakers have very little to throw at this year’s free agents.

I’m definitely in the minority thinking the Lakers aren’t going to be as bad as everyone says they will be next year. Pau Gasol will go back to playing in the low post, Steve Nash will be healthy and Kobe will come back as motivated as ever. The main problem is that they still won’t play any defense. Another problem is that the western conference will be as good as it always is, meaning the Lakers are probably going to be fighting for a low seed in the playoffs again. Here is a list of teams in the west, in no particular order, that are (probably) better than the Lakers entering next season:

OKC

San Antonio

Houston

Golden State

LA Clippers

Memphis

Denver

The first 6 teams are going to certainly be in the playoffs, while I think Denver will still be there despite losing Andre Iguodala; therefore the Lakers will be battling with the following teams for the remaining spot:

Minnesota

Dallas

This being said, since my team has Kobe Bryant on it, I’m not worried. Kobe will break down before he lets us miss the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he carries the team to a seed higher than the 8th. He could play with a broken finger and I’d still trust him to carry the team (oh wait, he’s done that before?). Anyway, as far as this upcoming season goes, we make the playoffs and it’s a whole new ball game. Might be a bit too optimistic, but hey, the Lakers don’t miss the playoffs. I wouldn’t like anything more than a potential 3-6 or 2-7 matchup against the Rockets. Probably not the ideal matchup for the Lakers, but watching Kobe trying to show up a certain someone on that other team? That’d be fun.

Moving forward, the Lakers will have an inordinate amount of cap space heading into the 2014-2015 season. It is THE offseason to have cap space because here are some of the more notable potential free agents:

Unrestricted

Restricted

Dirk Nowitzki

Greg Monroe

Paul Pierce

Paul George

Danny Granger

Eric Bledsoe

Kobe Bryant

DeMarcus Cousins

Pau Gasol

Zach Randolph (p)

Chris Bosh (eto)

LeBron James (eto)

Dwyane Wade (eto)

Carmelo Anthony (eto)

Amar’e Stoudemire (eto)

Tim Duncan (p)

Rudy Gay (p)

ETO = early termination option     P = Player Option

These are a lot of notable players that could be switching teams after this next season. Many of these obviously depend on players opting out of their contracts, which I believe most will since I don’t see many of these players signing contract extensions throughout the season.

So, back to the Lakers, whom could they realistically land with over $50 million of cap space?

LeBron James – The biggest fish out there. Personally, I don’t see him coming to the Lakers. In my opinion, he will either stay in Miami where he could potentially have the chance to go for 4 straight titles, or go back to Cleveland where I’m pretty sure he feels he has unfinished business and team up with Kyrie Irving and maybe even Andrew Bynum if he doesn’t go bowling during the season.

Duncan/Wade/Bosh/Stoudemire – I would be very surprised if either of these guys opts out of their deals.

Pierce/Nowitzki – Very unlikely to be signed by the Lakers due to their age

Restricted FAs – Indiana will match any offer for Paul George, and going forward, Indiana has a solid team and so George will most likely not be looking to leave. Monroe and Cousins are good young centers and so, unless the Lakers throw a lot of money at either of them, Detroit and Sacramento will respectively match any offer. Bledsoe just got traded to Phoenix so I see him either signing an extension or Phoenix matching any offers he could get.

Kobe/Gasol – Kobe will be back with the Lakers but the question really is at what price. I would see him back on a 2-year deal worth around $40 million. Personally, I’d love to see Gasol retire as a Laker. Without that many skilled big men available in FA next year, I think the Lakers will make him an offer. It will be interesting to see how much they offer him and if he comes back if he has better offers on the table.

Anthony/Granger/Gay – I think one of these lands on the Lakers. Anthony has had a good relationship with Bryant and it wouldn’t be surprising if he joined the team. The issue there would be how Kobe and Melo would play together when they are both ball-dominant players. Granger and Gay are interesting options but neither one is the ideal to inherit the team when Kobe retires.

My ideal scenario would involve somehow stealing Monroe from Detroit, re-signing Kobe and Pau and hopefully still being able to sign Anthony.

Way too early for all this speculation, but it’s either this or watching baseball so…

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