Welcome to a new series for FB&G for the 2016 off-season. This series will focus on team building and various paths the Lakers have open to them for the upcoming off-season. We will try to cover a variety of scenarios the Lakers could feasibly take and what moves might be involved with that specific approach. This installment will focus on trying to become a contender as quickly as possible.
The past few seasons have seen the Lakers deal with a variety of structural roster issues which have hindered their potential to compete. Whether it was the large amount of money committed to Kobe Bryant, their lack of young players who were ready to contribute to a highly competitive team, or their lack of secure draft picks, the team simply did not have the type of resources available to them to foster a winning team.
The Lakers were also intent on trying to chase big fish in free agency, but with limited capital to sign more than one “max” level player, they eventually struck out on every star they chased. Rather than panic spend on players a tier below, the team tried to roll over their cap space for future seasons while also taking chances on short term veterans who might help bolster the win column. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Roy Hibbert, etc all took turns as key rotation pieces.
These acquisitions did not hamper future spending potential nor did they lead to many wins. The result, then, was a bunch of losses which helped the Lakers keep their lottery picks and a boatload of cap space heading into a summer where the cap will go up by roughly $25 million.
As it stands the Lakers now have a roster with three first round picks (Russell, Randle, Nance), a 2nd round pick who has outperformed his draft slot (Clarkson), an incoming lottery pick (#2 overall), and upwards of $60 million in cap space to spend on free agents. In other words, the Lakers now have some tools to try and construct a roster which can make the suffering of the past three seasons a distant memory.
The question, of course, is how to best go about that. We have already discussed a slow and steady approach, but an alternative to that method is to go all-in on the idea of building a contender as quickly as possible. How would they go about executing such a plan?
I’m glad you asked…