5 Impending Free Agents the Los Angeles Lakers Must Look to Sign
2014 NBA Free Agents Lakers Must Pursue
Cap space has been the phrase associated with the Los Angeles Lakers' franchise this season and it will continue to be until 2014 free agency hits this summer. The Lakers are in desperate need of some reinforcements at the conclusion of this year mainly due to the fact that the team is simply not that talented. Dreadful is an understatement when describing the performance of those on the current Los Angeles team.
General manager Mitch Kupchak realized how poorly this team was bound to perform after losing Dwight Howard in free agency and Kobe Bryant to injury. As a result, Kupchak made it a point of emphasis for the Lakers to only give players a one-year deal as sort of an audition for the franchise moving forward. By doing this he was able to preserve enough cap space to sign an additional max contract subsequent to giving Bryant his massive contract extension.
Preserving cap space as well as having an awful team should ultimately lead Los Angeles to contending once again relatively quickly. With such a smart general manager, the Lakers should be in good shape moving forward when choosing which prospect to draft and which free agent to bring in. Although the elite free agents such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are all likely to re-sign with their current teams, there are still plenty players hitting the market this summer.
The following players should be at the top of the Lakers' list moving forward.
5. Avery Bradley - Restricted
Current Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley would be plausible option this offseason for Los Angeles. Bradley defends his position almost at an elite level, something that is extremely difficult to do at the point guard spot. With the emergence of the athletic, explosive point guard in this day and age, having a guard who plays intense defense is an absolute must for any contending team. The Lakers must look inquire on Bradley once he hits the market.
4. Pau Gasol - Unrestricted
Even though convincing Pau Gasol to re-sign with the team that has shopped him on numerous occasions will be tough, the Lakers should most definitely try to bring him back. Gasol will likely be a highly coveted free agent with his size and skill-set, but the advantage that Los Angeles holds is that they will have Bird Rights on him.
Bird Rights would allow the Lakers to exceed the salary cap when re-signing Gasol since he has been on the roster for over three years. If the situation presented itself, the team can sign a couple of the marquee free agents as well as Gasol this offseason.
3. Greg Monroe - Restricted
It appears as if the Detroit Pistons have decided to stick with Josh Smith for the future rather than Greg Monroe. Detroit's team does not collectively fit, and Monroe is now the odd man out after the Pistons failed to complete a trade. He will without a doubt be one of the highest pursued free agents this summer since a large number of teams could use a potential All-Star caliber forward/center. The Lakers love their big men so Monroe would be a perfect fit. The only holdup could be him being a restricted free agent which would allow the Pistons to match any offer.
2. Eric Bledsoe - Restricted
Much like Monroe, Eric Bledsoe will be almost impossible to pry away from his current team in the Phoenix Suns. The Suns acquired Bledsoe in the 2013 offseason, rolling the dice on him at the time. He has far exceeded the expectations placed on him prior to the start of the season so the Suns will likely match any offer Bledsoe receives. His athleticism and defense may possibly even land him a max deal. Los Angeles could sure use Bledsoe's services, but a sign and trade may have to take place to acquire him.
1. Luol Deng - Unrestricted
Finally, we reach the most realistic free agent in Luol Deng. Not only would Deng be the most realistic player but also the player who should be the Lakers' priority moving forward. Deng is a veteran who works as hard as anybody in the NBA. If you haven't realized the trend here yet, it's that Los Angeles needs a lockdown defender. He can not only play defense, but he can also score from both the inside and outside. The Cleveland Cavaliers will for sure have their work cut out for them if they intend on convincing Deng to come back. At this point the feeling around the league is the Deng is gone.