The Los Angeles Lakers have put together a strong and well-rounded roster, even after beginning free agency with a failed attempt to sign Kawhi Leonard. While their core is nearly set, one additional name could be signed prior to the 2019-20 season. There are a number of interesting free agents still on the open market, but also a few potential buyout candidates.
Along with other NBA title contenders, the Lakers have been linked to a few of the players who may get bought out, along with the top remaining free agents. We’re going to take a look at five names who may be worth monitoring and would be strong fits to play alongside LeBron James and company in Los Angeles.
These players are in no specific order, but the first name on the list could be a key name to keep an eye on if he hits the open market.
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Lakers Buyout Candidate: Andre Iguodala
It remains to be seen whether Andre Iguodala will be traded or bought out of his contract by the Memphis Grizzlies. But fortunately for teams interested in the veteran, it appears likely that he’ll play somewhere other than Memphis in 2019-20. Iguodala landed with the Grizzlies as a part of the trade which sent Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and D’Angelo Russell to the Golden State Warriors.
While Iguodala isn’t likely to earn a starting role with a contender, the 35-year-old has proven capable of being a key member of the second unit and a strong leader. If Iguodala is bought out by the Grizzlies, the Lakers will have quite a bit of competition to sign him. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported previously, the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers are among two teams “strongly pursuing” Iguodala.
Lakers Buyout Candidate: Dwight Howard
A reunion with Dwight Howard may seem a bit strange to some, but he’d be an interesting fit with the Lakers. There’s been nothing linking Howard to the Lakers if the big man is bought out by the Grizzlies, but the team is thin in the frontcourt and could use depth.
Beyond offseason acquisitions and expected starters Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers have re-signed JaVale McGee and also brought in Jared Dudley. Unless new head coach Frank Vogel opts to go with a small-ball lineup featuring Kyle Kuzma at center, similar to what Luke Walton did, then the Lakers may need another legitimate big man.
Lakers Free Agency: What About Carmelo Anthony?
The Lakers and Carmelo Anthony will remain linked as a potential pairing until someone high up in the organization shuts it down, or the forward opts to retire. The simple fact is, LeBron and Anthony are close friends and it was widely believed that the two sides would come to terms on a deal last season.
Obviously, things got derailed a bit with that plan due to James’ injury and the fact that the Lakers found themselves out of playoff contention with quite a bit of time remaining in the season. Anthony’s tenures with the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t exactly go as planned, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for him to make an impact with the Lakers.
The question when it comes to Anthony is how he’d fit on the team’s current roster, as they have a decent amount of depth at small forward.
The Chris Paul-Lakers Buyout Debate
Although a Lakers trade for Chris Paul is off the table due to his current contract, if he hits the buyout market, things could get incredibly interesting. Paul is due more than $38.5 million in each of the next three seasons, a stretch which includes a player option in 2021-22 worth north of $44.2 million, per Spotrac.
Following the trade which sent Paul to Oklahoma City as part of the Russell Westbrook package, the 34-year-old finds himself on a team set for a major rebuild. The Thunder would surely prefer to trade the veteran, but moving his deal could prove to be a tall task.
If Paul is bought out, there will likely be a number of interested suitors, but his close friend in LeBron could help make a push to add him to the roster. Although he’d be an appealing addition, the Lakers re-signed Rajon Rondo and also brought in Quinn Cook. Pairing those two with the chatter of James possibly playing point guard, and the backcourt appears to be crowded.
Jamal Crawford an Under-the-Radar Lakers Free Agent Option?
Jamal Crawford is 39 years old, but he can still knock down outside shots and produce as a scorer in the right situation. As much as I’d love to see Crawford spend a year playing on a strong Lakers roster and receiving consistent open looks, the team simply may have too much depth at the guard position.
Along with expected starter Danny Green, the Lakers have players such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Troy Daniels, Alex Caruso and Cook who can all play shooting guard. But while each of those names can hit shots from beyond the arc, Crawford would be a great addition to the second unit as a player capable of providing a scoring spark.
The biggest issue with a potential Crawford signing is that the Lakers would appear more likely to add a big man or point guard than another shooting guard/small forward.