All we’ve heard about from the front office this summer is their plans for 2014. No, it goes farther back than this summer. Mid-way through last year, when things were going horribly, the rumblings began. Actually, it has to go back further than that. It wasn’t a coincidence that every contract the Lakers have end in 2014. Mitch Kupchak and the Buss’ have had this planned for a long time.
Kobe Bryant signed his extension in 2010, ending in 2014. Pau Gasol signed his extension back in 2009, with it ending in 2014. Steve Blake’s four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2010? Expired in 2014. Jordan Hill’s two-year deal signed last summer? Expires next summer. This has been a long time coming. With good reason, Lakers fans are anxiously awaiting what the summer of 2014 holds.
The Lakers have planned this free agency spree for many, many years now. They wouldn’t hatch such a risky plan if they weren’t positive they could strike gold with one of the many big name free agents that will be available. First, LeBron James has a history of turning his back on a franchise in free agency. Then you have his teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both who will likely opt out with LeBron. All three won’t be able to join the Heat again unless they take MASSIVE pay cuts, which isn’t reasonable. Who will be the odd man out?
What about Carmelo Anthony? The Knicks aren’t making too many solid acquisitions (looking at you Andrea Bargnani) and are another disappointing playoff exit from his opting out as well. Much has been made recently about the friendship between himself and Kobe Bryant. Could he be the one to jump ship to Los Angeles?
The next tier of free agents is also loaded with talent: Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Zach Randolph, and Dirk Nowitzki. Role players are at even more of a premium, which the Lakers will need plenty of considering they’ll have an empty roster. Players like Shane Battier, Shannon Brown, Andray Blatche and more will be available and could be critical in title winning teams.
The Lakers also have some in-house decisions to make. Players like Bryant and Pau Gasol, who have been integral in the last two titles, as well fan favorites. The Lakers will certainly keep Bryant, but is Gasol in their future plans? His play this year will largely dictate what they do with him in the future.
What I’m certain about is the Lakers WILL make a big splash. Will it be LeBron? ‘Melo? Bosh? It’s impossible to predict. But given the Lakers have $50 million in cap space and are still the Lakers, we can expect big things.