The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th championship in franchise history this past season. It was an impressive effort from start to finish, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis essentially willing their squad to a title in the face of non-stop adversity.
This week, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst suggested that the Lakers would aim to make a big splash in the offseason. Specifically, he believes the team may target one of the high-end guards available via trade.
“There’s a deal out there for them for another guard,” Windhorst said to Jas Kang of Silver Screen and Roll. “That would be interesting. I’ll see if they actually go forward with it. It’s a guard on the last year of his contract who was great last year for his team and that team may be looking to move him. That would be interesting.
“But, I say pay the guys, you have the money, and not only do you bring the team back and bring them back sort of happy, but, you also prepare yourself for the next layer of transactions, which you’re eventually going to need to refresh this team down the road.”
Although Windhorst was very cryptic with his words, there are three notable guards who are rapidly approaching free agency: Derrick Rose of the Detroit Pistons, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans and Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers.
Rose is entering the final season of a two-year, $15 million contract. Prior to the last NBA Trade Deadline, the Pistons and Lakers engaged in conversations surrounding a possible swap, but they couldn’t agree on the pieces LA would send back. Detroit wanted Kyle Kuzma, whereas the Lakers were only willing to part with Alex Caruso.
Dwight Howard responds. https://t.co/1YLknXUz1m
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 29, 2020
In 2019-20, Rose averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists off the bench for Detroit on 49 percent shooting from the field, 30.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc, and 87 percent shooting from the free throw line. He would fit into the Lakers’ offense fairly seamlessly and immediately alleviate James of some of the ballhandling duties he is forced to take on every game.
An NBA general manager recently told Sean Deveney that a possible deal between the Lakers and Pistons surrounding Rose was increasingly likely this offseason.
“I think both sides were reluctant when they went into in January, February,” he said. “…Now, everything has shifted a little. Now, they’re both in a position to where a deal is much more likely now.”
The Warriors are coming back for their crown next year. https://t.co/dHauGKyc0H
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 28, 2020
Holiday is another intriguing name to watch. He is entering the fourth year of five year, $132 million contract – but the final year is a player option. Many believe he will opt out of the final season given his value on the open market. If that ends up being the case, New Orleans would lose him for nothing. That incentivizes the organization to deal him now and get something in return.
This past season, Holiday averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists per outing. Since 2017, he has produced his three highest scoring years – exemplifying his continuous improvement in what was arguably the weakest part of is game before. Now he is a superior defender, playmaker and scorer. Between him being familiar with Anthony Davis from their Pelicans days and his desire to compete for a title, this could be a perfect match.
Finally, Windhorst may have also been talking about Oladipo, who is currently entering the final year of his four-year, $85 million contract. There have been rumblings of him heading to the Miami Heat or Milwaukee Bucks, but it is unclear how legit those rumors actually are.
The beef is real. https://t.co/R7VdyWaJT8
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 28, 2020
Oladipo played in 19 games in 2019-20 after suffering a ruptured quad tendon injury in his right knee that kept him out of action for more than a year. He quietly worked himself into game shape towards the end of the Pacers’ first round series against the Heat, but he was still not the player he was in 2017. That season he averaged 23.1 points and led the NBA in steals with 2.1 per game. In the process he earned All-NBA team and All-Defensive team nods. Clearly his injury derailed that to some degree, but if he can regain old form, clearly he could be a huge asset.
With Rajon Rondo suddenly becoming the Los Angeles Clippers’ top priority heading into the offseason, it is very possible that the Lakers will need to find another guard to take some pressure off James. Will Rose, Holiday or Oladipo be who they settle on? Time will tell.