Yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets made a big move for their upcoming free agency, trading Allen Crabbe and two first-round picks to the Atlanta Hawks for Taurean Prince and a second rounder.
While the Nets didn’t necessarily land any big names, they cleared off roughly $18 million more in salary cap space, giving them now two max contract spots heading into free agency. The Nets are considered frontrunners to land mercurial star Kyrie Irving and with the second opening, look to be eying Kevin Durant.
The Lakers have also been rumored as a frontrunner in the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, yet are also active in rumors regarding Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and an Anthony Davis trade. The Lakers’ pursuit of those three stars may have just gotten a bit easier as a couple key players are likely out of the running.
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How Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving Joining Forces on the Nets Helps the Lakers
Silver Screen and Roll writer Ben Rosales brings up an excellent point on how IF the pairing of Irving and Durant decides to join forces in Brooklyn, this helps skew both the Anthony Davis Trade market and the remaining free agent markets much more in the favor of the Lakers. Especially regarding Davis, Irving and Durant joining up in Brooklyn gives the Lakers BY FAR the best trade package. The Celtics would likely want to hang onto their young assets in this scenario rather than make a godfather type offer that they insinuated would happen during the regular season. The Knicks are still in the running with a decent package but if the Lakers want to push their chips all in, there is no team in the league that can match their offer if Boston gets its wings clipped.
From a free agency standpoint, a pairing of these two stars also helps make the Lakers a much more appealing option to remaining stars like Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard. While the Knicks and Clippers also hold max free agency slots (the Knicks have two), the Lakers already have one superstar in place and can offer the appeal of a dual-star pairing. While the Knicks technically have the money available to sign two stars in free agency, they haven’t been in the running for Butler or Leonard and have primarily been linked to the duo of Irving and Durant.
Lakers 2019 Offseason Checklist
Currently, the Lakers have some major holes in terms of outside shooting, big men and defending – specifically down low in the post. The Lakers only have one rostered big man, sophomore Moritz Wagner, and desperately need to get him some help. Wagner wasn’t a plus defender in his brief appearances last year and still remains a year or two away from contributing steady, positive minutes at the NBA level. The Lakers NEED to find him some help in free agency.
Barring a trade for Davis that would gut the roster, the Lakers also need help in the form of a consistent outside shooter. Last season, Lance Stephenson (37%) was the Lakers’ most reliable three-point shooter who put up over 50 shots on the season – though shoutout Alex Caruso who shot 48% on 50 shots EXACTLY.
With LeBron and Ball on the roster, the rest of the Lakers are going to see tons of open looks from deep. Those are shots they need to consistently hit in order to take the next step and become a serious contender in the Western Conference.