The Los Angeles Lakers disappointingly ended their season, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Phoenix Suns, 4-2. They were banged up most of the season, being without their two stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James for a long period of time.
Now they will at least enjoy a full offseason to get some rest and possibly reshape their roster, considering that a handful of their players will become free agents.
Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Ben McLemore, Markieff Morris, Dennis Schroder, Jared Dudley, Montrezl Harrell (player option), Alfonso McKinnie (team option), Talen Horton-Tucker (restricted), Devontae Cacok (restricted), Kostas Antetokounmpo (restricted).
It’s clear that the Lakers have a lot of work to do this summer with most of the team becoming free agents. Their main priority will be to most likely re-sign Alex Caruso since he has been a key rotational player for them the past couple of years.
Talen Horton-Tucker is a restricted free agent, who may draw heavy interest from young, rebuilding teams and could see a major pay day. The Lakers will surely want him back, but it may be difficult, considering he may get a lucrative offer that L.A. wouldn’t dare to match.
Dennis Schroder was a solid pickup for the team last summer, but he did come up short when the team needed him the most during the playoffs. Schroder has stated that he would love to re-up with the team and work on getting better, but the Lakers may not be interested in paying him a large contract if they have the chance to land other major stars.
Andre Drummond was the Lakers’ prized mid-season pickup, who was decent but wasn’t able to develop enough chemistry with the main guys. His return to the team remains highly questionable and also depends on his asking price.
Wesley Matthews was a highly disappointing pickup, and Ben McLemore was scarcely used when the team was at full health. Both those guys seem unlikely to be retained. However, Markieff Morris is a player who is highly respected in the locker room and doesn’t demand too much money, just as Jared Dudley. Those two veterans are likely to re-sign for the minimum.
Lastly, from the key players, there is Montrezl Harrell and his player option. Harrell has publicly displayed his frustrations with the organization due to his lack of minutes late in the season. He has made multiple cryptic social media posts showing his disappointment. Harrell may have a talk with the Lakers coaching staff and front office about his role before making a decision. If his role isn’t defined, he will most likely look to sign elsewhere.
The only players under contract for the Lakers will be LeBron James ($41.1 million), Anthony Davis ($35.3 million), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($13 million), Kyle Kuzma ($13 million), and Marc Gasol ($2.6 million).
They have a lot of cap flexibility to work with this summer, and they may also continue their quest of trading Kuzma, who was a huge disappointment during the playoffs as well.
The Lakers are rumored to be one of four teams making calls for Portland’s superstar Damian Lillard. After the Blazers fell short again in the playoffs and fired head coach Terry Stotts, there is belief around the league that they may be interested in a full-on rebuild mode.
It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can indeed add a third star to the team, as James keeps aging and Davis’ health remains in question. After a failed season by their standards, they will once again try to recreate a new team around those two stars giving the roster and cap flexibility they endure.
Can the Lakers manage to return to superiority by building a powerhouse again? That remains to be seen in what will be a very entertaining free agency period.