There’s been a lot of speculation of who the Los Angeles Lakers might target in free agency this offseason but most of the focus has been on which guards they might want to add. However, they could also try to address other positions. According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the Lakers are a “dark-horse” option to go after Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Danilo Gallinari.
It gets complicated because the Lakers wouldn’t have enough cap space to fit him in. Favale details how a sign-and-trade scenario could work:
Cobbling together enough outgoing money without including Danny Green will be the real challenge. It depends on where Gallinari’s price point falls and how many incumbents exercise their player options. Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo all become useful salary filler if they forgo the chance to explore free agency.
A package assembled around Bradley, McGee and Quinn Cook (non-guaranteed) would let the Lakers start Gallinari at around $17.2 million. They can drive up that number by dealing the No. 28 pick as an actual salary, including yet another player or subbing in KCP’s money for anyone.
Is this enough to get the Thunder to bite? Debatable. It is definitely more appealing if they’re saving immediate cash in any eventual Chris Paul trade.
Gallinari was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft and has put together a solid career. He’s averaged over 15 points a game in each of the last five seasons. He’s also a really strong 3-point shooter which is something the Lakers could use. That said, adding him could present a problem.
Anthony Davis Might Have to Switch Positions With This Move
Gallinari isn’t a guy who is going to want to come off the bench so the Lakers would need to switch around their lineup. He’s 6’10 but can play power forward or small forward. Having him play small forward would mean that the Lakers have four guys 6’9 or over in their starting lineup. With a lot of teams going smaller, that could be a recipe for disaster. Favale thinks the solution is to move Anthony Davis to center:
This is much less of a question for the Lakers. Gallinari forces Anthony Davis to play more 5 or for head coach Frank Vogel to roll out supersized lineups with two bigs, Gallo and LeBron James, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The Lakers can get creative with how they stagger minutes if AD won’t, finally, warm up to being a full-time 5. Gallinari is most valuable to them as a shot creator (and foul-drawer) who can inoculate their half-court offense against huge drop-offs without LeBron anyway.
While it’s not a terrible idea, Davis isn’t going to go for it. He’s never liked playing center and he’s good enough to where he’s going to decide where he plays. That likely means trying to go after Gallinari is a pipe dream.
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Just Keeping Kyle Kuzma Makes More Sense
If the Lakers could add Gallinari without having to work on all this cap magic, maybe it would be worth it to try and make him and Davis work in the lineup together. However, there would be a lot of things to figure out if they wanted to add him.
If the Lakers were somehow able to convince Davis to move to center, putting Kyle Kuzma in the starting lineup makes more sense. When he starts, he averages around the same amount of points that Gallinari does and he wouldn’t create a financial headache. The Italian sharpshooter would bring a consistent shooter into the fold but it just doesn’t seem likely to happen.