With an all out, no-holds-barred attempt to lure LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony to Tinseltown, the Los Angeles Lakers are in danger of letting a bevy of young players put through the worst season in franchise history walk.
In an offseason where the recruitment of youth is paramount, retaining players that were a part of last seasons is as important as the big money signings. Playing the waiting game for the two biggest fish on the market this offseason could cost them dearly in the future.
With all the focus on James and Anthony, and in turn Pau Gasol should one of them sign, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar and it appears Kent Bazemore have already moved on.
Meeks might have been overpaid by the Detroit Pistons but with the deal happening so quickly, there isn’t a lot to suggest the Lakers made much of an effort. As one of the team’s best offensive players last season, and one of the few who put any effort in at the defensive end, his return would have been welcomed.
Farmar just wants to play in Los Angeles. He gave up millions in Greece to return to the Lakers where he didn’t disappoint. His proven loyalty to the Lakers and the fact he is prepared to sign for less than his talent suggests is a reason in itself he should have been further up the list for the Lakers’ front office. He’s a more than capable backup point guard, and when the starter is 39 years old, it’s likely you need some value coming off the bench.
Bazemore was known more for his flamboyance at the end of the Golden State Warriors‘ bench, than for his play on the court before joining the Lakers. Becoming an instant favourite for now departed coach Mike D’Antoni, Bazemore averaged 13 points, three rebounds and three assists as a Laker. If Nick Young is now priced out of the market for the Lakers, those numbers could well be missed, especially without Meeks and Farmar backing up in the backcourt.
If Young is available at a price the Lakers are prepared to pay, he needs to be signed up now. Forget waiting for Anthony and James; they need to have some decent players to welcome them off the plane if their destination is Los Angeles. Young was the stand out for the Lakers last season. He was in contention for the sixth-man of the year award and was the only person capable of lighting up the Staples Center on a semi-regular basis.
With Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry still yet to agree to play anywhere, retaining the pair of them needs to be towards the top of Mitch Kupchak’s to-do list.
Having Anthony or James join the team with a bunch of minimum players unaccustomed to the Laker’s system and lifestyle, the chances of a championship greatly diminish. Providing a core group of players familiar with each other was the recipe for the success of the San Antonio Spurs; the aging and changing bench of the Miami Heat lead to their demise.
Retaining players who openly want to return to the Lakers in an important task, one that appears to be overshadowed by the big fish on the market this season.