Warning: extremely long reply due to unexpected downtime on the clock.
In 2014 the free-agent wish list could include: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat. Restricted free agents could be Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe.
If Bryant re-signs next summer for, say, $12 million for the 2014-15 season, the Lakers would have enough room to sign two more big-name players, enabling the team to stay under the luxury tax.
I don't think we should make the big names our # 1 priority.. With this cap room we have the chance to really build a complete team.. Of course if you can get Lebron, George, or Cousins you probably have to do it.. Melo I like but not as much as I'd like to go after a couple different pieces that I think fit better than Melo.
1 guy I haven't seen anyone mention testing free agency is Kawhi Leonard.. I know he has a team option, but I don't see them trying to make him play for $2,894,059.. He's the "Lebron Stopper".. He's already 1 of their most important players & his role should grow even more this season.. I think they're going to renounce his rights & offer him a multi-year extension before he reaches his potential & they have to give him the max. I think he's right there with Paul George at the top of the 2nd tier SF's..
If they rescind his rights to try to lock him in an extension we need to throw a huge contract at him.. He's worth an offer every bit as big as Minnesota tried to steal Batum with, or the Lin/Asik deals.. He's actually probably worth more than any of those deals as he seems like he's going to be a better player than any of them.. & we know the Spurs have refused to pay the tax before.. so if we're able to structure a contract in a way that it will put them at risk of being taxpayers, we might be able to steal him away. With the Spurs having TP, Manu, Splitter, Green & probably Duncan on the books for 14/15, we might be best to frontload an offer.. Give him max money in the first year of the contract if that's possible/what it takes to get them not to match, & have it drop to 8M a season for the remaining years. Like the Asik & Lin contracts but frontloaded.
Another RFA that I think is worth making a run at is Avery Bradley.. Solid young combo guard that already plays elite defense.. Boston is looking for franchise players to rebuild around, there's no way they'll pay a premium to keep role players around. He's worth more than his QO & if we make the right offer I think the Celts will let him walk to save their money for guys to build around.
Those 2 additions would be game changers because of the defensive impact.. We'd be adding arguably the best defender in the league at SF & a top 5 defensive PG/undersized SG. Our perimeter & transition defense would instantly become much better & the bigs would look much better as a result of less breakdowns in the schemes & rotations.
Of course we'll try to convince the max guys like Lebron/George/Melo/Cousins first, but ultimately setting our sights a bit lower might give us the best chance of building a dynasty. If we could get 1 of those big names & also pull off the Bradley & Leonard signings, I think Kobe & Pau would have to think long & hard about taking a bigger paycut than expected to win right away. If we miss out on the big names but lock in Leonard & Bradley, we maintain our ability to go after Love/LMA/Marc/Rondo & still have a shot at contending in 14/15, which should make us even more appealing to those guys.
Hopefully we look something like this:
Possibly Nash if he still has anything left, & Sacre/Kelly/Harris if any of them end up being rotation players.
That would look pretty good to me if I'm Kevin Love or LMA.. Not to mention all of the potential ringchasers.