First off, I'd like to say a quick Hi/Hello to the fellas here that still know of me. Its been awhile since my last post and most regulars here might not recognize me anymore. I'll simply post as a newbie sharing my idea.
For all the hullabaloo about landing a big name in free agency, its become real hard nowadays to sell the Lakers as a destination simply by name. We'd have to first become a team that's interesting enough, and we'd have to know who to target. For that to happen, we'd have to have the slightest idea and flexibility within the team. A team built around 36-yo Kobe, a PG like Lin that can't really showcase his skills, role players that are asked to be starters like Ronnie Price and Wes Johnson, well all that is NOT the recipe for success.
I understand flexibility, I understand not paying the tax, I understand hunting for superstars. But why not hunt for the next one? as opposed to hunting for someone that is already a star and striking out instead? So get this, we're set to sign 12 players, not just 5. We need a "team" to win, especially in the tough western conference... so we need to concoct a formula of a group of guys that "fit" and whose situations are "right" for them and us.
So lets focus on the words "situation is right" and lets try to see who is available. Before going through "my" plan, lets examine the top free agents of 2015:
Marc Gasol - 20ppg 8rpg 1.7bpg, former DPOY and leading his Grizzlies to a top-3 seed in the Wild West. His brother played for 7 seasons as a Laker, won 2 championships. He is now in Chicago, seeking a contending team for the twilight of his career.
Pro: We need a Center of his caliber so bad.
Con: He lives in Memphis, his parents are in Memphis. Memphis can (and will) pay him the most money.
Verdict: Obvious No. He will not only leave for lesser money, but for an inferior team as well. Memphis is a great organization and has new ownership.
LaMarcus Aldridge - 23ppg 11rpg. Sure his defense is suspect but his 18-footer is also money. He explicitly said he doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding team, and that's what we are. The team he will be leaving is contending. So you think he will be leaving Portland for LA? Less money and a lesser team makes me say NO.
Pro: Back to the basket PF that has great range.
Con: He cannot accomplish what we lack as a team defensively.
Verdict: Obvious No. Same reasons as Marc Gasol, no reason to leave for an inferior offer and an inferior team.
Jimmy Butler - 22ppg 6rpg 3apg. This is only his 4th season, he will be a restricted free agent in 2015 and he will get paid regardless. The Bulls will be hard-pressed to let him go esp since he is also the team's best defender alongside Joakim Noah. Same reason as the two mentioned ahead of him, NO chance.
Pro: He is a top defender in the entire league and he just added his offensive game.
Con: He plays the same position as Kobe.
Verdict: Obvious No. He is in a very good place, he is developing into a legitimate star, on a good team plus he is a restricted free agent.
Other possible targets:
Rajon Rondo - he is not the same player he was in 2008, but he is still top flight. Question is, would you pay him $20 million per season? Is he enough to make the Lakers contender overnight? Couple that with his new situation in Dallas, Mark Cuban would not make the same mistake he did to Tyson Chandler. He didn't trade for Rondo to let him go the year after.
Monta Ellis (P) - he has a player option, he is paid less than what he deserves so there is a chance he opts out, but his situation in Dallas is so good, he and Mark Cuban can always work something out in 2016 if he forgoes FA for another year.
Roy Hibbert (P) - a top flight big man, but the kind of mess he's in mentally he might want to explore getting his groove back before opting out.
DeAndre Jordan - he will only be 27 come July and he is a great defensive player. His offense requires a good setter like Chris Paul to succeed. So the only reason he would leave is if the Clippers lowball him and the Lakers max him. That would've happened with Sterling owning the team, but now w/ Ballmer and Doc, don't think so.
Omer Asik - kind of 1-dimensional player, has no offense, would really depend on his asking price. If he asks for 15M annually would he really be an ideal fit?
Goran Dragic (P) - So there's our need for a PG like him, he not only improved on his own but he also made his teammates better. He would be 29 come July and arguably one of the better/realistic targets for us. Will Phoenix deny him his payday? Admittedly they already have his replacement in Isiah Thomas ready.
My choice: STARTERS
PG - Reggie Jackson, 4yrs 44 million. Even though he's a restricted FA and OKC can take him back, what they cannot do is pay everyone north of 10 million. KD max, Westy max and Ibaka with 12.5M annually, will Presti pay RJ 11M per season? It would bring their payroll to 11M and they still have to think about Perkins and Collison. He will only be 25 years old by July.
** This means you're either letting Lin walk as a free agent or you have traded him during the year.
SF/PF - Draymond Green, 4yrs 44 million. Same with RJ, the Warriors are contending but are capped out. With Iguodala, Bogut, Curry, Thompson, Livingston and 77.5M in commitments, will ownership be willing to sport a 90M payroll? I don't think so. He will only be 25 years old by July.
CE - Ed Davis, 4yrs 20 million. With a breakout year this year, he looks like a good enough prospect to become our next starter. Known more for his defense, I like what I see in his offense to make me think he'd consistently give 14ppg and 11rpg along with 2bpg. He will only be 26 years old by July.
** This means you have placated Ed Davis into the starting five, honed his talents for #teamfuture and you would be actively trying to move Jordan Hill for assets before the deadline.
Projected starting 5: Reggie Jackson - Kobe Bryant - Draymond Green - Julius Randle - Ed Davis
PG - CJ Watson, 2yrs 4 million. A solid backup guard all his career, he would be 31 and going to be an older acquisition. He would provide solid minutes behind Reggie Jackson and would be a good rangy shooter from the outside.
SF - Wesley Johnson, 3yrs 10 million. He has proven to be healthy, versatile and a team player. Improving day by day, we need his defensive contributions as he continues to develop his offense. He will be 28.
PF - Carlos Boozer, 2yrs 8 million. With only 3.9M starting salary offer, we tell Booz that he is a former all-star that can make use of the remainder of his career as a bench scorer for us. His role this year would warrant him the midlevel of 5M per year but a discounted rate of 8M/2 might convince him to stay.
Projected Bench: CJ Watson - Nick Young - Wesley Johnson - Carlos Boozer - Robert Sacre
Now I tell ya, THAT's a 50-win TEAM in the West. We would also be setting up for a big time signing in 2016 when Kobe comes off the books.