The future-minded Los Angeles Lakers have stuck to their guns during this year’s chaotic free-agency period.
With their cap space looking good and Magic Johnson leading the way around a Lonzo Ball-Brandon Ingram core, the Lakers could’ve made a big splash via something like a trade for Paul George.
Instead, the Lakers sat back and watched the rest of the league take up an arms race in an effort to keep up with the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers of old would’ve jumped right into the deep end to wrestle these sharks—but even the reported offers to free agents below confirm how committed the Lakers are to at least one more year of patience.
Here’s a look at the latest surrounding the Lakers.
Mutual Interest with Crawford?
Jamal Crawford might be the sort of veteran free-agent splash the Lakers most want to make.
Crawford might be 37 years old, but he’s reliable in more ways than one. Other than being a quality presence in the locker room and as a mentor, he can still fill up the stat sheet in a hurry on a rotational basis.
It sounds like both sides have an interest in teaming up, according to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register: “Crawford has strong interest in remaining in Los Angeles and signing with the Lakers after the Gallinari deal sent him from the Clippers to the Atlanta Hawks, a source said.”
Maybe the biggest problem with the Crawford situation here is the interest from other teams. It sounds like he wants to stick in the area and play with younger guys like Ball to round out his career, but other teams might be willing to offer more cash.
For the Lakers, the best way to lure Crawford is nailing down a front-loaded deal with an option tacked on for another season. It gives the team flexibility with the cap going into 2018, which has been the running theme so far.
Either way, the Lakers could do much worse when it comes to finding a stabilizing presence for a young core.
Lakers Lose the Waiters Sweepstakes
The Lakers failed in an attempt to swoop in and steal Dion Waiters off the market.
At the least, they did it their way.
Waiters looked like a great get for a rebuilding team like Los Angeles. The 25-year-old forward and former top-10 pick had a breakout season a year ago that hinted at much bigger things to come.
More interesting is the offer the Lakers made, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders: “The Lakers made a one-year, $17 million dollar offer to Waiters, a league source told Basketball Insiders. New York and Chicago verbally expressed interest, but neither team made an offer.”
This would’ve been an eye-popping move for the Lakers, getting Waiters on a prove-it deal so he’s at his absolute best while hunting for a long-term contract. But if it didn’t work out, there’s no commitment going into 2018.
At its worst, this failed pursuit still speaks to Magic’s approach this summer, where he’s committed to keeping cap space clear regardless of the talent available. Waiters didn’t have a reason to ink a one-year deal with the Lakers when a bigger, longer offer made itself available from the team that gave him another chance—and the Lakers feel they didn’t have a reason to offer him anything more.
Hindsight, as always, will cast a sharp eye on the developments here.
Hunting for Backcourt Help
The Lakers aren’t content with the depth behind Ball.
This much is clear from the constant chatter surrounding names capable of playing behind or next to him. But how important the front office viewed the need didn’t really come into context until it entered the fray for George Hill.
According to Wojnarowski, the team met with Hill and offered a one-year deal:
Here’s the catch—Hill was one of the best possible free agents the Lakers could’ve pursued for their needs. Yet even after he broke out with the Utah Jazz last year on averages of 16.9 points and 4.2 assists on 47.7 percent shooting, the Lakers still only offered a one-year deal.
Other than the suggested details here, perhaps part of the reason the Lakers came in low was because of interest in Rajon Rondo, a facet of free agency revealed by ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne:
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times went on to describe Rondo as “very interested.”
Rondo, also 31, is one of the more polarizing players available this summer after a split with the Chicago Bulls. He was never a great fit there and has been a journeyman lately, but anyone who would argue he wasn’t critical in the playoffs when the Bulls almost took down a top seed wasn’t paying attention.
A year ago, Rondo averaged 26.7 minutes and turned it into 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds, which isn’t terrible when thinking about his playing next to a top-15 player like Jimmy Butler.
In Los Angeles, Rondo would spell Ball and otherwise lead an interesting second unit while helping the team be more competitive than it was a year ago.
As with Crawford, mutual interest here is important. But as with everything else, Rondo will get a similar deal perhaps lesser than what he could get elsewhere. He’d be a great addition over the short term, but it’s clear the Lakers won’t sway in their approach for any player this summer.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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