As has been widely reported this season, as well as the last couple, the Los Angeles Lakers are planning to completely start from scratch next summer. They have constructed 99% of their current player contracts so that only 2 players are actually under contract next season. While the goal is to obviously sign a high-profile, major impact free agent (possibly 2), the Lakers will of course need to fill out their roster regardless. This season can almost be viewed as an interview process for the players under contract this season, with a couple notable exceptions; everyone knows Kobe Bryant will be in a Lakers uniform next season, and it’s a good bet Pau Gasol will as well. But what about the players who have only signed for 1 year, or are on the last year of their contract? Who from this season’s team might we see back in the purple & gold again next year? Here, we’ll take a look at a few notables.
Signed to a one year deal after Dwight Howard left town, there was hope Kaman might be able to form a formidable front court with Pau Gasol. While there was some early promise of the 2 playing alongside each other in the pre-season, we haven’t seen it nearly as much as we had hoped. Kaman so far has only averaged 8.3ppg & 5.3rpg in 17.3mpg, all below his career averages. The break-out of forward Jordan Hill has also taken away from Kaman’s playing time. Nagging injuries have not helped his case either. I doubt we see him back with the Lakers next season.
As mentioned above, Hill has so far had a break-out season, and quickly becoming a fan favorite in Lakerland, with averages of 10.4ppg, and 8.5rpg in 21.8mpg. Stats aside, Hill is becoming a major force on the boards to be reckoned with, and his energy & hustle are un-matched on the squad this year. While his preference is likely to remain with the Lakers, and I’m sure the feeling will be mutual, his improvement this season may be enough for him to command a larger contract than the Lakers are prepared to offer. Verdict: I see another team in need of front-court help snatching him up, possibly offering more than market value.
There was some excitement in LA this summer when former Laker Farmar, a member of the 2009 & 2010 championship teams signed back with the Lakers. Farmar for the season has averaged 8.2ppg and 4.8apg in 19.3mpg., while serving as back-up point guard to Steve Blake. A spark off the bench, Farmar has had solid nights, often hooking up with Jordan Hill on multiple pick & rolls. Farmar is a young lifelong Laker fan, and a fan favorite. Odds are he is back again next year, quite possibly as the starting point guard.
Like nearly everyone else on the Lakers this season, Blake is in the final year of his contract. He was brought at the start of the 2010-2011 season as a sharp-shooter, with mixed results. He’s had solid nights, and improved his shooting during his time with the Lakers, but he will be 34 next year, and the Lakers are obviously looking to get younger. Blake could very well be picked up by a contender in need of a shooter next summer.