The Lakers have been pretty busy through the first 4 days of free agency. The signings of Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng have added quality veterans who, even if not on the same timeline of the team’s young core, can still play quality basketball and will help move this team forward. Retaining Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black have brought back two parts of that young core and guys who have proven (Clarkson, more than Black) they can be rotation players in this league.
Adding to these moves the drafting of Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac in June and the Lakers have reshaped their roster in needed ways. For a team which only won 17 games last year this should be expected, but it is still good to see. The team has filled needs and been decisive in doing so.
Their work, however, is not done. Counting all the above players, both free agents and draftees, the Lakers have a roster of 12 players (though, it should be noted, Zubac has not signed a deal yet). The roster minimum is 13 and the team can carry up to 15 players. So, there are still additions which can/need to be made. With that, let’s take a closer look at what the Lakers should still be targeting.
*A back up point guard. The Lakers extended a qualifying offer to Marcelo Huertas, making him a restricted free agent in the process. Should the Lakers simply bring back Huertas they will have filled this hole adequately enough. They can also look at a player with more NBA experience, but at this point it remains to be seen what a player like that might cost or whether that guy would be interested coming into a situation where he’d be clearly slotted behind D’Angelo Russell and/or Clarkson and Lou Williams. Huertas knows what that role entails and would be a nice fit.
*Another SG/SF type. The Lakers have a fair amount of combo guards. They also have Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, and Antony Brown. Currently Nick Young is on the roster, but I don’t expect him to remain there through the start of the season. So, while the Lakers can always play somewhat small in the back court with any combination of Russell, Clarkson, and Williams, go bigger with Ingram, or simply play Brown, having another player who could step in and play real minutes wouldn’t be such a bad thing. A high priced option for this role is Allen Crabbe. More moderately/low priced options are Brandon Rush, Alonzo Gee, Rasual Butler, or Dorell Wright. Crabbe is likely to be too expensive and is a restricted free agent. Among the potentially lower priced options, Brandon Rush has system familiarity and is a very good shooter.
*Another Big Man. Mozgov is going to get the bulk of the minutes at C. Whatever he doesn’t get, Black will likely claim. The team could also go small by playing Nance or Randle for spot minutes at the 5. While I think Zubac could end up being a great 2nd round pick, I imagine he will split time between the D-League and the Lakers. So, why would the Lakers want another big man? Because you can never have to many of them and when looking at the depth chart, it is clear one injury puts the team in a precarious situation due to a lack of just basic depth. While signing a young player for this spot sounds appealing, with Zubac and Black, the Lakers might be better off signing a low cost veteran who would be okay with a minimal role while; a player who will practice hard, be a supportive teammate, and play mop up minutes if needed. One name which fits here is Robert Sacre — though I know some fans wouldn’t be too fond of that move.
Overall, then, there is really not much left for the Lakers to do. A splashy signing like Crabbe is always possible, but at this point I would think it’s unlikely. If anything, the Lakers may be more content to try and spend up to the salary floor and then retain some cap space for next summer when they might be far enough along to be granted a free agent meeting with a certain point guard.