Projecting Los Angeles Lakers' 2014 Free-Agency Big Board
The good news for general manager Mitch Kupchak is that the limelight of Los Angeles will still attract free agents. Signing the league's most desirable players is no longer a given, but this team is never down and out for too long, giving hope that a return to relevance—not prominence—isn't far away.
Although there are plenty of dreamers with visions of LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony coming to town, we'll be a bit more realistic. There's no guarantee that the three opt out, and more importantly, B/R's Kevin Ding has reported that L.A. will likely bring back Steve Nash, making big-name signings more plausible in 2015 (see: Kevin Love).
The Lakers are ready to move past this season, and the draft will certainly help their cause. That said, a lottery pick can't solve everything, and the team will have its top targets come free agency.
2013-14 Statistics: 14.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 37.3% 3PT
If the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for a modest pickup, Avery Bradley could be their guy.
In his fourth season, Bradley is having a career year. He's not the superstar that fans in Tinseltown are hoping for, but he's an up-and-coming player who may be more affordable than he thinks, as explained by B/R's D.J. Foster.
The catch here is whether or not L.A. will invest in a floor general who's already experienced significant injuries at just 23 years old. The Lakers have been obliterated by health the past two seasons, and simply put: Point guards have played an integral role in that narrative.
The Lakers would be taking a risk in signing Bradley, but his age and upside make him worthy of consideration. If Mitch Kupchak can look past his body and focus on his body of work, he'll see a bright future on both ends of the floor.
2013-14 Statistics: 17.6 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, 38.5% 3PT
Kyle Lowry's future has been a hot topic for a while. He was considered a candidate to change addresses at the deadline, but as it turned out, GM Masai Ujiri saw the value in keeping him and making a run at the playoffs.
That move has paid dividends at this point in the process, but it doesn't answer the question: Where will Lowry be moving forward?
Despite being in a contract year, Lowry has stated that a new deal isn't his only motivation. "Yes, I want a contract," Lowry said, via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. "But I want to win. I want to grow. And to grow, you've got to be able accept coaching."
The coaching situation in L.A. is another topic for another day, but making the right roster moves must be as much of a priority. The Lakers' big board will be full with possibilities, but there's no reason Lowry should be outside the top five.
2013-14 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 35.0% 3PT
Lance Stephenson is one of the top players on one of the top teams in the NBA, and as a result, he may attract a deal that the Indiana Pacers simply aren't willing to pay.
The Los Angeles Lakers could very well go the route of the Dallas Mavericks and offer one-year contracts in 2014, but with Stephenson hitting the market at just 23 years old, the team would be smart to do what it can to bring in a player with the potential to be an elite defender.
According to 82games.com, Stephenson is posting a player efficiency rating of 16.5 (per 48 minutes) at the shooting guard position. That's a respectable number, but defense is where he's truly making his mark, holding opponents to a PER of just 11.1 (per 48 minutes).
Whether the Lakers land the youngster or not, he must at least be on their radar. We all know that this team wants Kevin Love in L.A., but putting all your eggs in one basket is a risky move considering the current state of the organization.
2013-14 Stats: 14.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 18.2 PER
Greg Monroe will be a tough acquisition for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only will he be highly coveted across the Association, but the Detroit Pistons have the opportunity to match any offer the youngster receives.
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the Pistons plan on utilizing Monroe's restricted status. Aldridge reminded fans back in February that the 23-year-old's agent anticipates a max contract, and in the process he stated that Detroit will "match the offer sheet and worry about the money later."
As tough as it will be, Los Angeles can't ignore the idea of bringing in a big to help move past the Pau Gasol era (assuming the veteran is gone). Monroe is loaded with All-Star potential, and while he leaves much to be desired on defense, his offensive game is top-notch early in his career.
Some names on the big board will be tougher to target than others, and while Monroe epitomizes that concept, he could be a big-time addition on a new-look roster.
2013-14 Statistics: 28.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 41.4% 3PT, 25.10 PER
Call it a pipe dream. Call it unrealistic. Call it whatever you want.
The Los Angeles Lakers would be remiss not to have Carmelo Anthony on their big board.
As noted earlier, the Lakers will focus on 2015 as their priority. That free-agent class will be saturated with All-Star talent, but if the opportunity presents itself to get ahead of the game, L.A. would be remiss to ignore the situation.
As to be expected, there are contrasting reports regarding Melo's desires. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes Anthony will be leaving New York, while Carmelo himself says he's willing to re-sign for less money, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
Then there's Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who says the Chicago Bulls are a top-two contender to land Anthony, while NBA.com's Sam Smith says the Bulls have a "one percent" chance of making it happen, via B/R's Adam Lefkoe.
Nobody knows how this scenario will end, but if it turns out Melo is available, Mitch Kupchak should be interested. This story isn't going away, so stay tuned as we say goodbye to the regular season and hello to the official rebuild in Los Angeles.
*All statistics are accurate as of March 27 at 2:00 a.m. ET.