After the Lakers lost in the first round to the Phoenix Suns it has a lot of people questioning the Lakers future and if it is the end of Lebron. Yes, the Lakers were a horribly built team and they have a lot of changes to make. And it’s the end of something for Lebron, but it sure as heck isnt the end of him being a top 10 player in the world and contending for a title. Yes, I said top 10, but that’s the extent of the drop off that we see from him I feel like. The way the NBA is played if you have the ball in your hands as much as Lebron does and have as high of an IQ as he does there’s no way he isn’t a borderline top 10 player regardless of how old he is. Couple that together with AD being another top 10 player in the NBA and this is a contender as long as they are built right.
That’s where the end of Lebron comes in. It’s the end of this wacky experiment people thought would work and that is just surrounding Lebron with shooting. In theory I get it, but it has often proven not to work. The bubble was a fake season and quite frankly they had an easy path to the title that year, but this spring we saw how Lebron needs multiple stars or at least all-star level players to win and not just “shooters”. The pickups the Lakers made prior to this season and in season all proved to be terrible, Schroder, Harrell and Drummond are terrible fits. Oh and Kuzma needs to go this summer too. Now how do you turn this hodgepodge of a roster into a contender with a true lack of young attractive assets, draft capital and a less than desirable amount of cap space? Easy, you make some sign and trades.
Two guys I have my eye on are Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. Both Derozan and Lowry are free agents this summer and historically the Lakers have been connected to both. Lowry was almost a Laker this spring, but the Lakers refused to make a rather beneficial trade because they didn’t want to give up Talen Horton-Tucker… A former second round pick, who I’ll add can one day become a solid NBA player, but to not trade him because you think he’s the future is wild. THT has shown flashes but nothing that if I was a Lakers fan would lead me to think he was the next guy for this prestigious franchise. Now, if I were like the Sacramento Kings then yes maybe I would be a little more attached to a guy like THT.
Anyway, back to Derozan and Lowry. Lowry I think could still be had. We’ve seen teams get really creative with sign and trades the past couple of years and I think it happens again this offseason. We know there is a mutual interest between the Lakers and Raptors to make this happen so I think it could be rather simple.
THT and Schroder (S&T as well) for Lowry. Idk what the market is for Lowry this summer, but I feel like this is one of the better options they will have. Moving forward if you’re Toronto Schroder might be a better fit. He’s on par with Lowry scoring wise and we know he can be a really good sixth man. He’s proven that he can play really well with other point guards as well (see OKC with CP3). A pairing of Schroder and FVV will keep the Raptors competitive while they try to retool. THT would be a nice fit in the Raptors system and I feel like if given the run could have a Gary Trent Jr. like rise in the 6. Sure, he’s not the shooter GTJ is, but he has some potential to be a contributor on a good NBA team. The Lakers do this because they get a hard nose guy that has proven to hit big shots and I think still has a good year or two left in him. You know what you are getting with Lowry and for the Lakers come playoff time that is THE most important thing.
Derozan is a little more interesting. I feel like with Derozan there are two hurdles, the fact that it’s the Spurs and they historically don’t deal with the Lakers and the fit. Once again I’m not sure what the S&T market looks like for Derozan so lets assume that the Lakers offer is the best the Spurs would get and the fact that I have a feeling that Derozan is going to all but force his way home to LA. It’s been linked for a while now, with either substance or photoshops, but it just makes sense. Then if we throw in a potential reunion with Kyle Lowry and Derozan would all but sign for the vet minimum to play for the Lakers. Okay but the fit might not be the best on paper. Adding Derozan / Lowry and pairing them with Lebron would be rough in the sense of there is only one ball and I’m not sure if they would all be the primary ballhander enough to make it work and how would the spacing be? However, these are the best basketball players in the world and when you have two top ten players, two other probably top fifty players in the NBA then I don’t think it matters. You figure it out. Especailly since I feel like with load management and everything that would come up throughout a season they would all get their fair share of the ball. Not to mention that these are all veteran guys. The only real ego on this team is Lebron, but if you put him with veteran guys that are trying to accomplish the samething that he is, and they aren’t idiots then he’s fine with it.
To make it work with the Spurs in a S&T I think a package of Kuzma, Harrell and a first is more than enough. San Antonio gets another wing in Kuzma, who would get out of the spotlight and have a chance to get back to his pre AD in LA self, Harrell who is proven to be a solid NBA player, but I feel like just wasnt a great fit in LA but would be nice piece for a Spurs team whose frontcourt is rather barren. The pick is interesting since it is slated at 22 this year. Too high to be a throw in but it might be needed, so for the purpose of the exercise let’s say the Lakers give up 22 this year but get a pick back as another trade asset. Derozan is still an all-star level player and could still be a number two option if someone goes down and would probably the second best third option in the NBA (thanks Brooklyn haha).He gets way too much flack for his mid range dependent game, which I lowkey think might be making a comeback, at least in the playoffs.
Now you throw in whatever veteran guys want to go to the Lakers and I feel like this team is back on track to potentially winning a title. I feel like guys like Caruso and McLemore will resign but Morris, Drummond, and Matthews will be gone. That would still leave them with a few major minutes spots and there are definitely guys that would love the opportunity to play in LA and compete for a ring.
Denver is going to get a lot better next year when Murray comes back. Phoenix is rising but CP3 will be another year older. Utah is still Utah. Who knows what’s going to happen with the Clippers. And Dallas is still in this weird in-between where I feel like they need another star but who? All of this to say, if the Lakers make a splash they’ll be right back in it next year so don’t take too much stock into this first-round exit because while the team is trash as currently built, they just need another all-star level player or two to get back on track.
PS check out Space Jam 2 in theaters next month