The Los Angeles Lakers entered the off-season with one eye on the future, as they looked to add high-upside young talent to their roster.
The Lakers front office has been rather successful in this area throughout the summer, adding Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Thomas Bryant, in an attempt to inject some youthful energy into their team.
However, while each of Los Angeles’ new additions brings some valuable skills to the table, there is a clear lack of elite-level athletics within the team’s youthful contingent. As such, it’s easy to understand why Michael A Scotto of HoopsHype recently reported that the Lakers hold interest in the New York Knicks‘ Cam Reddish, should he become available via trade.
And according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Stinar, the Lakers should continue exploring their options when it comes to acquiring the 22-year-old athletic wing.
“Being around players like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis could do wonders for the 22-year-old. He is still so young that his career is far from a finished product. The Lakers could also use him. He could provide very solid defense to give James a breather on the defensive end, and if he can get more efficient on offense that would be a huge plus,” Stinar wrote on August 7.
Reddish is entering the final year of his current contract, and unless the Knicks trade him, or reach an agreement on a contract extension, he will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Kyrie Irving Unlikely to Leave Brooklyn
Outside of adding youthful talent that can continue to develop on a contending team, the Lakers have also been focused on trying to acquire superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, with the hope they can send Russell Westbrook to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the trade package.
However, according to an August 4 report by SNY’s Ian Begley, Irving looks likely to remain on the East Coast for the final year of his current contract, before making a decision on his future next summer.
“With regards to Kyrie Irving, I was told by a source close to Irving that he feels that he and the Nets are in a very good place right now, and comfortable heading towards the start of next season. Irving obviously opted in to the final year of his deal with Brooklyn, he can be an unrestricted free agent next summer. After a lot of trade talk, there doesn’t appear to be much there at the moment, so it’s worth noting that he feels like the Nets and he are in a good place at this point, as they head towards next season,” Begley said.
Lakers Urged to Cut Ties With Westbrook
Despite Irving’s reported decision to remain with the Nets, the Lakers have to figure out their next move with Russell Westbrook. Do they run it back with him for another year? Look for other interested trade partners? Or broach the subject of a buy-out?
Considering the Lakers’ front office are reluctant to part with any of their future draft picks, and wants to begin rebuilding their supporting cast of stars, it makes sense why they want to remove Westbrook from the situation.
During an August 5 episode of Fox Sports’ Undisputed, NBA Analyst Skip Bayless gave his thoughts on the Lakers’ best path forward, even if it would be seen as unconventional.
“I don’t see any scenario where Jeanie Buss is going to rubber stamp a bunch of draft picks to get him out of here. The best way out of this is to pay him his $47 million and send him home. Just do addition by subtraction.
That would be the very best thing she could do for the basketball team – because then you protect all your future picks, and you allow LeBron to figure it out without Westbrook in the equation. You just say ‘Ok, we screwed up, but we swallow our pride, swallow $47 million, and Russ, we don’t need ya,’ have fun,” Bayless said.
However, if the Lakers are serious about contending for a championship in the coming season, they would be better served by figuring out how to effectively get their star trio to co-exist on a basketball court because that’s their best chance of hanging another banner next summer.