Perimeter shooting was a serious issue for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and when looking at their current roster construction, it projects to be a problem again this season.
However, with Russell Westbrook’s deal set to come off the books at the end of the season, the Lakers project to have somewhere in the region of $30 – $35 million in cap space – not quite a max salary slot, but enough to entice a star-level player during the 2023 free agency period.
According to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic, one player the Lakers could look to acquire is Jordan Poole, the Golden State Warriors’ impressive sharpshooter who has shown flashes of Stephen Curry in his game over recent seasons.
“With the salary cap projected to be $134 million, Los Angeles could create upwards of $30 million to $35 million or so in cap space. If their widely known interest in Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving isn’t satisfied via trade by then, Irving could reunite with James the easy way when he’s an unrestricted free agent. Other notable free agents could include Khris Middleton (player option), Fred VanVleet (player option), Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Herro (restricted), and Jordan Poole (restricted),” Amick and Buha wrote on September 16.
It’s worth noting that Poole will be a restricted free agent, which means the Warriors will be able to match any offer sheet the sharpshooting guard signs, but given their hefty wage bill, it’s quite conceivable that they would be hard pressed to match a substantial offer.
What Would Poole Bring to the Lakers?
Poole entered the NBA in 2019 as the 28th overall pick, and since then, has quickly established himself as one of the best pull-up shooters in the NBA. In his 184 regular-season games to date, Poole is averaging 34.1% from deep, but that average is hindered by the 27.9% he shot during his rookie season.
The Wisconsin native is also a reliable ball-handler who can provide some secondary or tertiary playmaking when required, as displayed by his four assists per game this pass season, although he does need to improve his care of the ball, as evidenced by his 2.5 turnovers per night.
It’s often said that a shooter’s true upside can often be seen in their free-throw percentage and that those who excel from the charity stripe will eventually become a consistent threat from other areas of the floor, and given Poole’s 88.5% average from the line, there’s every reason to believe he will continue to flourish as he improves in the coming years.
Finally, by adding such a talented shooter to their rotation, the Lakers can ensure LeBron James gets back to what he does best – pressuring the rim and punishing defenders in the post. Because, right now, the Lakers’ lack of perimeter offense is limiting the overall impact LeBron can have on the team’s offensive game plan.
Lakers Rule Out Pacers Trade
One of the reasons the Lakers are expected to retain cap space heading into next summer is the fact that they’ve failed, or refused, to trade away Russell Westbrook in return for long-term salary.
The Indiana Pacers have long been rumored to be a team that would willingly enter into negotiations with Los Angeles for Westbrook, in a deal that could possibly see Myles Turner and Buddy Hield heading to the West Coast, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who was appearing on a September 21 episode of The Rally, the Lakers have now ruled out any potential deal.
“The two first-round pick price is just not appealing for the Lakers, and right now, they’re going to be very prudent with the approach they’re going to take. There’s a long runway with Russell Westbrook, they can see how this team starts, they have until the trade deadline, he is on an expiring contract.
And the Lakers mindset, I’m told, they realize this is a significant bullet that they’re going to have to use. When you look at two unprotected first-round picks, they have to time out when exactly it makes sense to make a trade. Right now, a package of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner is not what they’re willing to trade two first-round picks for,” Charania explained.