With some maneuvering, namely sending out the bottom of the barrel of their roster to the Wizards, the Lakers have managed to set themselves up to be in a position of offering a near (within a few hundred thousand dollars… Oh, is that all, just a few hundred grand, sure, I’ve got that in my car’s cup holder) max deal to a free agent.


Now, there are currently 2 schools of thought in regards to what to do with this money. The first of which is to offer it up to bring in a 3rd star. Targets are thought to include Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker. There have also been substantial rumblings about D’Angelo Russell making an L.A. return, but I deleted SnapChat from my phone so I haven’t been able to confirm. Russell, as a player with less than 7 years in the league qualifies for a smaller max, an amount that would come in around $27 million instead of approximately $32 that the other max level targets would command.

With regards to Russell there are also questions about if he is worthy of the $27 million. To that end, I’d point out that there are more max slots out there this year than there are max players, and that the laws of supply and demand tells me that Russell is going to get PAID by someone. Whether that’s the Lakers, the Nets, the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, etc. Someone is going to pony up the dough.

Rob Pelinka

The other option besides going all in on a 3rd star is for Rob Lowe… sorry, Pelinka, to take that chunk of change and divvy it up to fill out a more balanced roster. Should the money go to a 3rd star the roster would look like the following:

  • Anthony Davis
  • Lebron James
  • 3rd Max Player
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Talen Horton-Tucker
  • Room Exception Contract player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player
  • Vet Minimum Player

Now certainly if the Lakers went this route, and managed to land Kawhi Leonard, they would have the pick of the litter for the vet minimum guys. And there will be some bargains to be had, with an incredibly large influx of free agents on the market, there will be those left standing when the Free Agent game of musical chairs ends and the cap room money is dried up. Solid veterans that will look around and ask if its worth taking slightly more on a room exception deal, or slightly less and a chance to chase a ring.

So what if the decision is to split that money up, what are we looking at? Well, we’re going to review a FEW options. We’ve got 5 potential targets who would require cap space. These are free agents who aren’t max, or even near max guys. The NBA’s middle class of free agents, who are not going to command $20+ million, but will certainly reel in more than MLE money.

We’ve also got 9 guys to keep in the back of your mind who maybe could be added for the room exception level deal that the Lakers will have available.

And lastly a review of 15 players who could fall under the Veteran Minimum Deal category.

Keep in mind, with a few exceptions, one of the primary qualifications we looked for when pairing down the list was the ability to shoot. Common sense says that you surround Lebron and a post player such as Anthony Davis with shooters.

That being said, the same common sense rule applied last off season when the Lakers first signed Lebron. Instead they surrounded him with JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo. So I guess we’ll find out soon enough if they learned their lesson.

Brook Lopez



The more offensively gifted of the Lopez twins, Brook has really extended his range, adding a three point shot to his arsenal of offensive skills. Originally acquired by the Lakers in the deal that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofy Mozgov to Brooklyn, Lopez should be a candidate to make a return engagement at the Staples Center.


One of the more underrated players in the league. Farouq-Aminu is by no means a star, but he is a very solid role player. Last season in Portland he played in 81 games, averaging 9.4 ppg, 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 34% from three and playing some nice defense with his length.


The recently re-crowned champion is best known as one of the league’s pre-imminent 3 & D players. His 45% shooting from behind the arc, just over 10 PPG, and defense aided the Raptors quest in bringing a championship north of the border. Him slotting in on the wing with Lebron and the Brow feels pretty natural.


Redick has experience in Los Angeles, having spent some time with the Clippers. Redick is one of the most high level shooters in the NBA. The only down side is that he is at his best when he is being run off screens. Not to say he can’t be a catch and shoot guy, but its not typically how he’s been used when at his best. And if you play with Lebron, you become a catch and shoot guy, whether you like it or not.


Coming off a career season which saw him average just a shade over 15 ppg on 38% shooting from deep Ross could be inclined to stick with what works and stay in Orlando. But should be opt to give winning a try, the Lakers could certainly do worse than someone with the nickname, the Human Torch. An added benefit is that Ross has experience coming off the bench. Which would help as the front court will likely be filled by Davis-Kuzma-James.

Trevor Ariza



The former Hawk will be one of the more low key sought after guys in free agency. The demand for him is such that his market may expand past the room exception, but would the opportunity for a ring outweigh the financial loss?


With Ariza, and Lopez, I’m picturing Ron Burgandy blowing into his conk to get the NewsTeam to assemble. Ariza got his pay day with the Suns, and subsequently the Wizards. There was talk of a reunion with the Lakers last offseason, could it come to fruition now? A solid vet with 3/D credentials.


The former T-Wolve is a tough inside player with a nice outside touch. Not flashy, but a real hard hat and lunch pail type guy. At this point in his career he’d be a quality front court option off the bench.


The least heralded of the Holiday brothers Justin does have some nice ball handling and scoring abilities. He’s kind of a poor man’s Jamal Crawford, though he is much younger. We’ll touch on someone else that played with Lebron and didn’t have much of a conscious as a shooter later, but Holiday could have just the right kind of mindset to flourish with the stars.


After failing to live up to the expectations the Mavericks had when they signed him to a big deal, Matthews has rebounded to become just a solid veteran. Any team would be lucky to have him, and he could be just the man to step in as the off guard in the Laker’s line up.


Like more than one name on this list, Miles was overpaid on his last contract. This level deal falls more in line with where he ought to be. A lengthy three point shooter is nothing more than a role player at this point, but that is also what the Lakers are looking for.


The OTHER Curry, Seth has “enjoyed” a journeyman career to this point, but would blend in nicely with James. He’s competent enough as a ball handler that he can bring the ball up, let James handle the playmaking while he goes to spot up on the perimeter. He could be a nice fit, and with the Blazers’ love of Anfernee Simons it appears Curry would be best served leaving Portland.


Lamb likely gets a deal bigger than this, he feels like a guy that the Hornets may overpay to keep if/when they lose Kemba Walker. I could also see the Knicks overpaying for the wing on a short 2 year deal. If not, this is a player that the Lakers should strongly consider. Athletic, and an adept scorer he has quietly emerged in his time in Charlotte as a nice 3rd scoring option.


After a couple of inflated 1 year deals, thanks to sharing the same agent as Lebron James, could KCP return for a 3rd year in Los Angeles on a market corrected deal? Giving the team some sense of continuity?

Rajon Rondo


This is a very paired down list, honestly, whether the Lakers sign one big free agent, or a handful of lesser options, these guys will all be in play to fill out the roster, them and more than a few others. These are guys that you’d expect to see agreeing to deals about a week after the moratorium ends:

  • Andrew Bogut
  • Frank Kaminsky
  • Luke Kornet
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Mario Hezonja
  • Glenn Robinson III
  • Mike Scott
  • Noah Vonleh
  • Jerryd Bayless
  • Wayne Ellington
  • Ish Smith
  • JR Smith
  • Kyle Korver
  • Rajon Rondo

And as stated, many others.

If I were Rob Lowe the first thing I’d do is try and get The West Wing re-booted with Sam Seaborn as POTUS, oh damn, sorry, we’re talking about Rob Pelinka aren’t we, I always get those two confused.

If I were Pelinka, I’d take a swing at Kawhi and if that fails, I’d quickly turn my attention to signing 3 guys with the cap space, adding a RMLE guy, and then filling out my roster with shooters.

Here is what that roster could potentially look like:

  • Brook Lopez
  • Anthony Davis
  • Lebron James
  • JR Smith
  • Seth Curry
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Terrence Ross
  • Al Farouq Aminu
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Glenn Robinson III
  • Kyle Korver
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Jerryd Bayless
  • Frank Kaminsky
  • Talen Horton-Tucker

Two different roads, both possibley (Likely?) leading to a finals appearance. Adding a third star leaves the Lakers of still having 2 All NBA talents if one goes down, but having a more balanced roster lessens the possibility of chemistry issues at the top of the roster, especially if the role players added are vets who are fully aware of why they signed in L.A., to get that Larry O’Brien Trophy.

One thing is for certain. This will be a very interesting July for NBA fans around the globe.



  • Written by Jason Sullivan
  • Find us on Twitter at @TopDucker or on Facebook at You’re Ducking Right

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