We knew this all along. The free agency seasons of 2014 through 2016 were always going to be about going after big names. No, the Lakers didn’t get Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers were a long shot at best, and even shot-happy Carmelo Anthony hesitated to pull the trigger.
Yes, free agents threaten to go to the Lakers all the time. Most of us think they have genuine interest. Most of the time, they head back to their respective teams. When was the last time you heard a solid Kevin Love rumor headed to Los Angeles in the past two weeks? All of the rumors have him going to Cleveland, of all places.
But, in a league where superstars dominate the game, Kevin Durant has always been the target since salary cap plans were executed. The Lakers did a phenomenal job of freeing up cap space in 2015 and 2016. Not only can they sign a max player in 2015, but they can also do it in 2016 as well.
Kevin Durant has been a top three player in the NBA for several years now. When Russell Westbrook got injured, he kept OKC in it. When OKC let James Harden go in a trade, Durant held up the team’s record.
Now, this is speculation, but he may want a change of scenery. The Lakers are willing to pay the players that they want to keep. They have always shown that they’re willing to do so. The hard part is simply, acquiring the talent.
BasketballInsiders did a great job providing an overview of the Laker cap situation. The only Laker players currently signed past 2016 are Ryan Kelly, Julius Randle, and Nick Young. Combined, they eat up just $10 million of the cap space, which should be well projected over $60 million by then.
The Lakers could have a front court of a more developed Julius Randle, Kevin Durant in his prime, and money leftover to spend for a second star.