The NBA season may have just ended but the offseason is already upon us. The Los Angeles Lakers are world champions and are already looking to repeat. They’ll do whatever they can to improve for the upcoming season but could also keep a number of players.
Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee didn’t have much of a role in the NBA Finals. Bradley didn’t come to the bubble and McGee lost his starting job to Dwight Howard. While the Lakers didn’t seem to need them come playoff time, both men started most of the regular season games for the team. Bradley and McGee could opt-out and become free agents this offseason but according to Sam Quinn of CBS Sports, that’s not likely to happen:
Bradley and McGee are probably opting-in, whether the Lakers want them to or not. Bradley’s bubble absence and McGee’s bubble irrelevance makes it highly unlikely that either would get a raise on the market. Their returns take us down to around $15 million to work with. Cook is not guaranteed, but keeping him around as trade fodder makes more sense than eating $1 million in dead salary. Caldwell-Pope and Rondo are reportedly opting out, and both have earned raises. This is where things get tricky.
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Do Lakers Want to Keep Bradley & McGee?
While Bradley and McGee proved to not be all that valuable in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean they can’t still help the team. Bradley is arguably the Lakers’ best perimeter defender. Even though they won a championship without him, that doesn’t mean they’re a worse team when he’s on the court. The Lakers would probably like to bring him back because he’s a solid 3-point shooter and an excellent defender.
Whether or not the Lakers want McGee back might depend on what happens with other big men on the market. Dwight Howard is a free agent and has nothing tying him to Los Angeles. There are rumors that Golden State could pursue him. If signs elsewhere, the need for McGee to stay becomes more pertinent. DeMarcus Cousins is also a free agent and could look to return to the Lakers. A duo of Cousins and McGee would be solid for the team should they let Howard walk.
Who Else Is Coming Back?
As of right now, it looks like the Lakers who are in danger of leaving are Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo. Other than those three, it’s looking like the team could bring back a lot of the same players from their title run. The biggest name who is expected to return is obviously Anthony Davis.
He proved last season that he’s the most important piece for the Lakers’ future. The fact that he’s likely to return and play alongside LeBron James keeps them in title contention this year. Dion Waiters and JR Smith will be free agents but it doesn’t seem very likely the Lakers will bring either of them back. Neither player had roles during the NBA Finals so they aren’t necessary pieces to keep.