Here’s my annual in-depth look at Laker off-season possibilities discussing trades, free agency and the draft. I'll try to hit on key questions and address scenarios that are coming up on the board.
Lottery: May 23
Draft: June 28
Moratorium: July 1-10
Vegas Summer League: July 6-15 @ UNLV
Free agents can be officially signed on: July 11
Hawaii exhibition games: October 9, 11
1st California x game: Bakersfield October 18 vs. Seattle
1 - Trades
1. How much salary needs to go out in trades?
For trades with teams over the cap the salaries dealt need to be within 25% plus 100K. Multi-player trades are more likely than players being dealt solo. Getting just KG or just JO isn’t very likely, Minnesota or Indy want to attach bad contracts they can’t get rid of otherwise.
Teams are also reluctant to take more players in than they send out, usually lack the roster space. So while you can match salaries in a 5:1 trade to get KG it’s pipe. A 4:2 trade maybe, but if the other team has to take in three more players than they send out it’s very unlikely to happen. If you can keep it within two, including draft picks.
2. How much Laker salary has to go out for KG, JO, Gasol, Kidd, etc?
LA contracts out minimum before July 1 for:
KG and a Minny PG: ~21.2
JO and Tinsley: 19.2
Laker salaries before July 1:
Cook 1.8 (poison pill contract status, very hard to trade)
#19 pick 1.07 (after signing)
LA contracts out minimum after July 1 for:
KG and a Minny PG: 22.4
JO and Tinsley: 20.8
Laker salaries after July 1:
Cook 1.75 (BYC - counts 3.5 in to other team, 1.75 out for LA)
#19 pick 1.07 (after signing)
S&T possible with free agents: Walton, Mihm, Shammond, McKie, Smush.
3. Is let them gel an option?
From the LA Times Laker blog: Asked point blank whether the team can just sit back and wait for Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar to develop, Kobe said, ``No. Something needs to be done.''
Deal or No Kobe, Mondays on NBC before Heroes. Kobe can opt out summer 2009. Just use the MLE and add a draft pick then Kobe and Jackson will be furious. Bad idea.
4. Noooooooooo I want to keep Odom, Bynum, Kwame, fill in the sacred cow. Can they get what they need inside and still keep my boy?!!!?
KG trades would likely require all three.
Keep Bynum scenario 1 – Odom, Kwame, 19 for JO and Tinsley. Possible if no one else is willing to take Tinsley off Indy’s hands. Problem is Isiah wants JO too and he’s never met a contract he didn’t like. The competition will define if taking on Tinsley is enough or if Bynum has to be in a deal to close it.
Keep Bynum scenario 2 – Whatever Odom, Kwame and 19 can get, which should be a lot.
Keep Odom scenario 1 – Kwame, Bynum and 19 for Gasol. If Memphis doesn’t get Oden in the draft maybe they consider this. However if West comes on to LA in a consulting role Gasol will likely not be considered.
Keep Odom scenario 2 – Kwame, Bynum, Radmanovic, 19 for JO. Serious reach though. Indy has to keep Tinsley, doesn’t get Odom, and has to take Radman’s ugly K. Very tall price to pay just to get Bynum. Very slim chance of happening.
Keep Odom scenario 3 – Fail to get a big and just deal Bynum, Kwame, 19 and change for whatever they can get. That can add a quality starter, but probably not the 2-way big they need most.
Keep Kwame scenario – Bynum, Odom, Radmanovic, 19 for JO and Tinsley. LA losing both Bynum and Odom while keeping Kwame is overpaying and goes against what LA, Jackson and Kobe all want to do. Kwame is an attractive trade piece to both sides.
5. What are the Lakers chances of trading for Kevin Garnett? Can he opt out and sign here for MLE?
Garnett can’t opt out until summer 2008. As for trades, Minnesota likely won’t unless KG demands it. Reportedly when Kobe talked to Jermaine O’Neal he told JO not to make KG’s mistake. If that report is true sounds like Kobe has already given up on KG demanding out.
Minnesota papers are claiming Garnett will sit down and talk contract extension with Glen Taylor.
“Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor won't talk about it, nor will Kevin Garnett, but the gossip around the Target Center is that Garnett recently talked to Taylor about a contract extension. Garnett is signed through next season, then becomes a free agent.”
Also had this:
“Taylor also said:
• He intends to go forward without trading All-Star Kevin Garnett, echoing what McHale said last week.”
Doesn’t look good. It’s on Garnett to demand a trade out and he’s shown no signs of doing that
6. But if Minnesota gets an offer they can’t refuse then what?
Then he may go to Phoenix. Rumors the Suns may offer Marion, 4th pick and change for KG. Depends on what pick Atlanta gets in the lottery. If the Hawks are top 3 they keep the pick, 4 or later it goes to the Suns. Root for the Hawks to do well in the lottery.
7. Can the Lakers compete with that by offering Bynum?
Bynum, Odom and Kwame can compete, but Minnesota has far less fan resistance to a Phoenix deal than a trade to the hated Lakers. Also includes a high lottery pick. The rumored Suns deal is sexier and easier, but the rumor also goes against Phoienix plans to avoid the tax.
An LA deal would be something like Bynum, Odom, Kwame, 19 for KG and one of James, Hudson or Jaric. Which would necessitate landing a center in free agency or trade. Jamal Magloire with the MLE would be at the top of that list.
But again what’s much more likely is Garnett stays put. McHale was kept on and this is his last chance to build around KG. T-Pups will need to be blown away in a trade to move Garnett.
8. OK then what about Jermaine O’Neal?
JO’s a possibility. Donnie Walsh is retiring in Indy, Carlisle has been fired, Bird will want to put his stamp on a new team. Marc Stein of ESPN keeps hinting that JO wants to go to LA and that it can happen. Isiah Thomas says he’ll make a run at JO as well, but given his relationship with Bird, good luck Zeke. After the Mavs meltdown Dallas may make a JO run as well, but rumors have them going after Kidd.
9. Would the Lakers have to give up Bynum to get JO?
Comes down to whether the bidders for O’Neal are all willing to take Tinsley. New York doesn’t care about bad salaries, neither does Cuban. So if everyone says yeah we’ll take Tinsley then LA probably has to offer Bynum to get JO.
10. Does it have to be Tinsley? What about Murphy or Daniels?
Has to be Tinsley. They’ve tried to deal him for two years, only way they get rid of him is attaching him to JO. A buyout would be mighty expensive since Tinsley is under contract through 2011. Tinsley has off court trouble, has missed 80 games in three years and he hasn’t played well. Tinsley is the likely ante to then bid for O’Neal.
11. What would a JO deal look like?
Odom, Kwame and 19 for JO and Tinsley works in salaries and value, but if Indy demands Bynum instead then it gets very tricky. The Lakers would probably try a deal that doesn’t include Odom or Tinsley, offering Bynum, Kwame, Radmanovic and 19 for JO. If Indy demands Bynum and Odom LA may well decide that’s just too high a price to pay.
The key is if Indy insists on Bynum and insists on LA taking Tinsley, then the Lakers can only match salaries by including Odom. At that point talks fall apart.
To get JO will require sharp negotiation from Kupchak to get value but not overpay. Bynum, Kwame, Radmanovic and 19 just for JO; or Odom, Kwame and 19 for JO and Tinsley. Any Indy requests for Bynum and LA taking Tinsley blow up any deal.
The Lakers can try to take it to a blockbuster by offering Bynum, Odom, Kwame and 19 for JO, Tinsley and Granger. Total facelift for Indy though, all the faces of the franchise are gone, makes it unlikely.
12. What about a deal for Pau Gasol?
Gasol has demanded out regardless of what they do in the draft. There’s more of a chance at Pau once Jerry West steps down in Memphis, provided Logo doesn’t then join LA as a consultant, he’s not high on Gasol.
If Memphis gets Oden, LA could offer Odom and 19 IF they’re more sold on Gasol than Odom. If Memphis doesn’t land Oden then Bynum, Kwame and 19 may work. Question is if the Lakers are sold on Gasol’s toughness, and if he’s enough of a name to satisfy the need for starpower in LA.
9. How about Camby? Denver wants to avoid luxury tax.
Doubt Denver deals with LA, direct competitors for western playoff seeds. To get the immediate tax help Denver seeks they’ll want to trade with a team that has cap room, Orlando, Charlotte, Milwaukee. Camby could work well in Orlando teaming up with Dwight Howard.
On the Maloofs. They don’t want to deal Artest here unless they have no choice or get a deal they can’t refuse. Isiah may make an Artest run and has the interchangeable pieces that could appeal to Sac, especially Channing Frye. If LA had to compete with that they can try going big with Odom in a Bibby/Artest deal but I don’t see it. Bibby and Artest need to be separated and LA won’t deal Odom without getting a shotblocking inside scoring big in return.
Artest will be a waiting game. If the Kings don’t get any takers for Artest then LA can make lowball offers like Kwame, 19 and Sasha for Artest and Salmons, or wait it out longer and hope Sac buys out Artest and then LA signs him for MLE.
If New York offers Frye and change and LA commits to making a serious run at Artest then what? Some here would say Walton and 19 for Artest, but LA is head over heels for Luke and definitely want to re-sign him.
Jackson’s latest comments about Dennis Rodman point straight to wanting Artest. Fits the needs, triangle experience, and most importantly would not cost Odom or Bynum. First move is up to the Maloofs.
11. Any other defenders, Josh Smith, Gerald Wallace in S&T?
Smith IS the Atlanta Hawks, carries the team at the gate, not available. Charlotte has made re-signing Wallace their top priority. They have no interest in dealing him.
12. What about a second option shooter like Pierce, TMac or Rashard Lewis?
Pierce has lost the edge off his once complete game, getting knocked for being too selfish and not taking smart shots. Kobe needs an inside scorer to balance the floor, Pierce isn’t the right fit, and he’s owed 75M over the next four years. TMac is not available. Shard is talking with Seattle next week, his girlfriend is pregnant and from the pacific northwest, now he prefers to stay but money will determine where he goes. Seattle could look to an S&T, but to bring in a high level point guard, which leaves out LA. They like Wilcox at 4 so Odom doesn’t do much for them. If Lewis leaves Ray Allen could go on the block, but LA would have to give up Bynum to land him.
13. On to the point guards, will LA go after Kidd, Dre, Bibby?
Kidd would require Bynum or Odom, LA’s unlikely to go big for small. Dallas is making a run at Jason. Billy King wants to keep Dre, likes the idea of a vet point leading a group of kids. Bibby goes back to the Maloofs not being willing to deal with LA.
14. What about a sign and trade deal for a free agent point like Billups or Mo Williams?
Very unlikely. Billups is looking for max money or close to it and if Detroit goes deep into the playoffs Dumars will pay what it takes to keep Chauncey. Billups goes to most money, MLE is total pipe. Milwaukee may make an offer to Billups, but assuming that fails they keep Mo.
15. Who else could be a target?
Portland may shop Zach Randolph. Zebo together with Jarrett Jack could interest LA. Problem is Zach plays no defense, isn’t a great passer and has a huge contract. Some have mentioned Kenyon Martin, but he’s too great a health risk with that contract. Kirilenko is getting love on the board but Utah still values him highly and would want Odom or Bynum. LA passes.
16. So what’s real, what’s possible?
Bynum, Kwame, Radmanovic, 19 for Jermaine O’Neal and cheap filler (Williams, Harrison or Greene)
Odom, Kwame and 19 for Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley
Kwame, 19 and change could be shopped leaguewide if they fail to land JO. Hard to say what it could retrieve. Best case would be Artest and Salmons if Sac had no other offers and the maloffs were willing to deal him here. Maybe Channing Frye and a bad contract from New York. Some talk of Luke Ridnour or Earl Watson being shipped out with Johan Petro, but they want a quality point back. Chris Duhon could be on the block with Sefolosha’s development in Chicago.
The Lakers focus on JO and then it comes down to whether LA will part with Bynum. If so they may have a deal. imo they'll also watch what happens with Artest in Sac. If neither of those targets materialize then Kwame and 19 goes on eBay for best available and LA weighs the offers, if any. As it stands now imo it's JO or bust, another home run swing attempt.
Part 2 – Free Agency
17. What can the Lakers spend in free agency?
LA is over the cap and can only use the MLE (Mid-Level Exception) starting at ~5.2 and the vet minimum (1.2 down depending on years in the league). The BAE (formerly LLE) was used on Shammond last year and can’t be used this year.
18. What free agents are too expensive for LA to get?
Chauncey Billups 10 to max
Vince Carter 10 to max
Rashard Lewis 10 to max
Gerald Wallace 8-10
Mo Williams 7-9
19. Payton and Malone signed here for MLE or less, why can’t someone do that this year?
This is Chauncey’s last chance to get the big bucks and he’s been underpaid for years. Vince is about himself not rings. Shard is still young, optimal earning years. Wallace has yet to be paid more than 5M. Mo is about to get his first big payday.
20. What’s the story with restricted free agents? Why can’t LA get them?
If a free agent is restricted his current team can match to automatically keep him. Even if the player wanted to leave all his team has to do is match and he stays no matter what.
If the Lakers make an offer to a restricted free agent then their MLE is tied up, can’t be offered to any other player until the player’s current team decides to match or not. Teams have seven days to match and typically milk the time period dry. Being clinically risk averse, Kupchak is unlikely to tie up the MLE for a week on the chance that a team may not match. Most RFAs stay put so Kupchak’s risk aversion, for once, is justified.
21. So restricted free agents need to be crossed off the wish list?
Yeah, with just a few exceptions the RFAs that can play are kept.
Quality RFAs expected to stay:
Charlie Bell (Mil)
Andray Blatche (Wash)
Chuck Hayes (Hou)
Jarvis Hayes (Wash)
Ersan Ilyasova (Mil)
Amir Johnson (Det)
Darko Milicic (Orl)
Andres Nocioni (Cle)
Travis Outlaw (Por)
Sasha Pavlovic (Cle)
Anderson Varejao (Cle)
22. Charlie Bell?!? But he’s at the top of my list! Can Milwaukee still go after the top free agents while giving Bell MLE money?
Milwaukee only has 36M in committed salary for next year if Boykins opts out as expected. They can match an MLE offer for Bell and still have a max slot available.
From a recent online chat with the Bucks beat writer:
I think the possibility of Mo and Charlie Bell coming back is pretty good. Bell is restricted, so the Bucks can match any offers, and they really want him back. They also want Williams, and it could be difficult to land another front-line point guard if they lose him.
I think Williams and Bell are in the plans. Boykins has a player option but likely will sign elsewhere. Harris said Bell will be working out at the point guard spot this summer and handling the ball as much as possible. He said the plan is to play him at the point more often next year and as a backup 2 guard, but not so much at the 3 position where he is always giving up 4 to 5 inches to the player he is defending, and is often being posted up.
Sorry guys, looks like you have to let go of the Charlie Bell pipe. And yeah that does suck out loud.
23. Any restricted free agents that can play who might be available?
Mickael Pietrus. Nellie isn’t fully sold on him. Word before the playoffs was they would let Air France walk if he got an MLE offer. Now they may look to S&T him for a big, or bring him back given the chemistry they’ve developed. They’re more committed to re-signing Matt Barnes than keeping Pietrus, so in theory Mickael could be had.
24. What’s the full free agent list?
Ignore the partially guaranteed salary listings.
25. Anybody else we should cross off wish lists?
Grant Hill. He’s said it’s Orlando, immediate contender, or retirement.
26. So who CAN the Lakers get with the MLE?
Steve Blake (Den) Unrestricted. The Nuggets want to re-sign Blake but it’ll cost them MLE money and they want to avoid the tax. Bidding war will drive up the price. Karl is pushing management to ante up to keep Blake.
Jason Hart (LAC) Unrestricted. Did a solid job for the Clips. Good passer, good defender, can hit the open 3, but he lacks the vet seasoning Jackson prefers. Phil may not have a choice.
Jannero Pargo (NO) Player option. Jackson loves him.
Keyon Dooling (Orl) Player option. Good size at 6-3, can shoot when he gets minutes, but a poor passer with a weak ATO ratio.
Outside of the Box
– Derek Anderson (Cha) Unrestricted. A vet combo guard with solid playoff experience who had a renaissance in Charlotte this year. Has some point skills, a 10 assist game this year, low turnovers. Had a 29 point game this year while going 6-8 from 3 . Great size at 6-5. Can lose some weight after an MLE signing to gain some speed to defend at 1. Long arms, pretty good defender. Downside: 33 and injury prone. Mr. High Ankle Sprain.
Bonzi Wells (Hou) Player option. Only a year removed from Bonzi owning SA in the playoffs. With consistent minutes he can be a valuable 6th man on both ends, IF he can keep his head straight.
Matt Carroll (Cha) Unrestricted. Laker killer has a money 3 shot and can hit his ft’s.
Eddie Jones (Mia) Unrestricted. Still has some left in the tank. Solid defender, 3 stroke, smart, close to Kobe, but Shaq wasn’t wrong about EJ disappearing in the playoffs.
Outside of the Box
– Kelenna Azubuike (GS) Unrestricted. Warriors may not have the cash or the roster room to keep him. Athletic and powerful finisher that can get to the line, hit 3’s, rebounds well and can defend (played for Tubby at UK). When he was forced into starting after all the early injuries he had a 28 point game for the Dubs. Downside: turnover machine.
Ruben Patterson (Mil) Unrestricted. Great year for the Bucks. Excellent defender, plays with toughness and intensity LA lacks, triangle experience.
James Posey (Mia) Unrestricted. Clutch player that can hit 3’s and defend, championship experience. Needs consistent minutes, wasn’t in great shape this year. Heat probably hope to use him in S&T so he may hold off on signing until he sees what Miami can do. Popular MLE target so he'll be looking to start, which definitely hurts LA.
Matt Barnes (GS) Unrestricted. Playing phenomenal ball in Oakland. Emphasized today he definitely wants to stay and the Warriors know how important he is to the team and the chemistry. They’ll use the MLE to keep Barnes.
Desmond Mason (NO) Unrestricted. Proven scorer that can get to the line and board. Expected to return to Seattle for their MLE.
Jason Kapono (Mia) Unrestricted. Jackson wanted to draft him, Kapono was picked just ahead of LA and the Lakers took Luke instead. Unreal percentage from 3 this year.
Ime Udoka (Por) Unrestricted. Sharp defender, reliable glue guy for the Blazers, has some tri experience playing for the Lakers in the SPL.
Morris Peterson (Tor) Unrestricted. Lost his edge and starting job this year. Inconsistent from 3. May just be too old now, or could be ready to recommit and come back in great shape, play great D and stroke 3’s. Risk reward free agency play.
Big FAs in the next section, along with possible vet min targets.
Chris Webber (Det) Unrestricted. Great triangle fit as one of the best passing bigs in the league, can’t play D though. Expected to stay with Detroit.
Joe Smith (Phi) Unrestricted. Played well for the Sixers down the stretch. 14/10 in his last 12 games with minutes, including a 26 point night and a 17 rebound game.
Antonio McDyess (Det) Player option. Has been healthy and productive last two years. Will go where he gets money and minutes. Has a 6.4 option for 2007-08 but then free agency, may want to opt out to secure a long term contract.
Mikki Moore (NJ) Unrestricted. Had a great year for the Nets and they want to bring him back. Will take more than a split MLE to get him in LA.
Melvin Ely (SA) Unrestricted. Limited skills. Owns Odom, but after that?Not much.
P.J. Brown (Chi) Unrestricted. Probably retires.
Outside of the box
– Maceo Baston (Ind) Player option. Not an MLE player, may want out for more minutes. Effective shotblocker and rebounder in Europe last year for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Jamaal Magloire (Por) Unrestricted. After being very overweight most of the year, Mags finally slimmed down at the end of the year and averaged 10/9/1 for the Blazers in his final 15 games, including a 3 block game, pair of 16 board games, 19 pointer. Risk reward, who knows what version of Mags shows up? Native Canadian would like to go to Toronto, but Brian Colangelo’s Euroball blueprint may not be a fit for Magloire.
Brian Skinner (Mil) Team option. Bucks jettison him for cap space. Good rebounder can swat some, not a scoring threat.
Dikembe Mutombo (Hou) Unrestricted. Can still bring the swats and boards, but can he even play in the tri? Doubtful.
27. Any diamonds in the rough available with vet minimum?
Depends on what picks if any the Lakers keep. Available roster slots will determine if the Lakers even need to use vet min. Devean Green and J.R. Pinnock may get second looks. The market may not give much love to Corliss Williamson or Bo Outlaw. Corliss had some nice games to close the year that should push him past vet minimum, but he might take vet min to contend, leaves out LA though unless they can make the impact deal. Alan Anderson of Charlotte, good athlete 6-6/220 swingman that can defend and board. Streak shooter, had a 24 point game in the final week on 10—14 shooting. Downside is to machine.
28. What are the most likely free agent options for LA?
Steve Blake but he’ll be in a bidding war, Jason Hart, Kobestopper. Next level for partial MLE: Bonzi, Eddie, and Derek Anderson as an interesting under the radar combo guard move.
Jamaal Magloire is frequently mentioned on the boards to patch a hole at center if Bynum and Kwame go out, but his lack of passing skills may lead LA elsewhere.
Some will cling tight to the Charlie Bell pipe. Here’s hoping Kupchak has the guts to pursue a restricted free agent and Del’s son makes the wrong call as GM that lands Bell in LA, but it’s a long shot at best.
29. What about holding onto the MLE for players that might be bought out?
May prove to be a wise call. Buyouts could be coming for Steve Francis or if LA is very lucky Ron Artest. This possibility may give LA some pause. If the Lakers fail on initial targets they may decide to just hold the MLE and see what shakes out from buyouts.
Part 3 – Draft
30. Will the Lakers even keep the picks?
At the town hall meeting Kupchak emphasized that the Lakers are not looking to get any younger. The three picks (LA #1, Charlotte #2, LA #2) are all available in trade and will be shopped hard. Chances are pick 19 leaves the building, maybe all three.
31. If they keep the pick, who might the Lakers be interested in at 19?
Early rumors have LA liking Thaddeus Young of Georgia Tech and Jeff Green of Georgetown. Young is an Odom clone all the way down to not having a right. The NASCAR twins, can only go left. Young is very athletic and long, great clay as the scouts say but clay is all he has, raw project coming out after his freshman year. Green is more NBA ready, an excellent passer, solid defender, can be a capable scorer, but he went Casper at the worst possible time in the tournament.
32. What about Nick Young of USC? We need bench scoring.
If he’s still on the board and LA keeps the pick Young should get a good look. Can play on both ends but will need to play more team ball (black hole) and avoid reaching on D to get in quick foul trouble. Projections have him going at 18 so he could be there.
33. Equal time for UCLA, where does Afflalo go?
Draft Express has him going early 2nd before the Laker pick (from Charlotte). If they keep the pick and Afflalo is still there he’d be a great choice, they need his D desperately. Afflalo’s level of D wouldn’t be as stellar at the NBA level, he doesn’t have elite athleticism, but he’d be a huge perimeter D upgrade over anything LA has on the bench now.
34. Who else could be a second round target?
Herbert Hill of Providence, 6-10 eraser.
35. Who might drop n the first round?
Tiago Splitter may drop like a stone. Disappearing act in the Euroleague Final 4 and buyout concerns with Tau, the same team that has imprisoned Luis Scola for years. Splitter may not be able to come to the States for another year, maybe more. Splitter has lost some athleticism from his earlier years as a defense wiz, also faced injury problems. Had some great games in the regular season but the playoff no show will definitely hurt his stock.
36. Any chance of the Lakers moving up? What if they include Bynum, how far up could they go?
No one is cracking the top two. Oden and Durant are franchise players on rookie contracts, the most valuable commodity in the league. So if those two are untouchables, LA doesn’t give up Bynum. I’m known for my Horford wood over the last two years, but for Bynum? Won’t happen. Horford is exactly what LA needs though, off the charts hoop iq, shotblocking rebounding machine.
– If an impact trade goes down imo it’s a variation of Bynum, Kwame, Radmanovic, 19 for Jermaine O’Neal and low salary change, maybe Oriene Greene, a sharp defending 1. That fails Kwame and 19 is shopped for Artest if they get insanely lucky, otherwise a deal for a mid-level point, maybe Duhon.
– If the 1 has to come from free agency, Jason Hart in another Clipper kidnapping. Though I like the DA idea. Kobestopper definitely another option.
– Outta here in some trade.
Thanks for reading.