With LeBron James finally selecting the Cleveland Cavaliers as his home for next season, the rest of the NBA dominoes will begin to fall. A report came out that Carmelo Anthony is choosing between the Knicks and Bulls, and even if that report is false, the odds of Melo sporting the purple and gold next season are slim. With the Rockets pursuing Chris Bosh and the Mavericks signing restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to an offer sheet, the next 72 hours promise to be filled with action.
The Lakers are in a good position to make a multitude of moves. They can accept contracts from teams like the Rockets and Bulls to help them facilitate signing Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony, taking on contracts like Jeremy Lin or Carlos Boozer with much needed draft picks returning to the Lakers for their help. Or if Pau Gasol decides he wants to go to the New York Knicks, a sign-and-trade could land Iman Shumpert, Samuel Dalembert and draft picks. None of these moves are sexy, nor do they make the Lakers a true contender, but they keep the Lakers very flexible and give the team draft picks, also known as cheap talent.
If trading isn’t what the Lakers are interest in, pursuing a restricted free agent like Eric Bledsoe could be a very realistic option. The free agent market for Bledsoe has been surprisingly quiet, while the Phoenix Suns have shown interest in free agent Isaiah Thomas. The Lakers could make a big offer similar to the structure of the Chandler Parsons deal; two years with a player option for a 3rd at $15-16 milion per year. The Lakers would go from zero young talent a year ago to two very interesting young players in Julius Randle, 19, and Bledsoe, 24.
Or Jim and Mitch decide that the free agent class isn’t very good, wait out the first big moves and attempt to swoop in on players whose agents didn’t do a good job. Last year the Atlanta Hawks snagged Paul Milsap at a discount of 2-years/ $19 million. If the Lakers can find similar value on the free agent market, it would be considered a win.
But with the big free agent targets off the board, the Lakers should hire a coach immediately. It is no longer a carrot to dangle at any of the remaining free agents, as no one is good enough to deserve that kind of say. Hiring a coach to get his input on what he needs would seem to be very important. The last thing the team needs is another coach that doesn’t fit with the players.
No matter what, expect the Lakers off season to get a lot more interesting. Starting now.