Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for LA Lakers
Even with the additions of Randle and Clarkson, L.A. still has holes to fill up and down the roster with just four players currently under contract.
But at least we can confidently predict who the starting power forward will be come October.
Let's take our first (speculative) look ahead to what the Lakers will look like the next time they take the court.
Here is L.A.'s initial post-draft depth chart for the 2014-15 season.
Starter: Steve Nash
Backup(s): Kendall Marshall, Jordan Clarkson
The Lakers actually have some options at the point heading into next year, but the position is far from solidified.
Who knows if Nash will be able to suit up again? And while Marshall came out of nowhere to revive his career last season, he's definitely not a long-term solution at point guard.
Neither is L.A.'s second-round pick Jordan Clarkson. The Missouri product is more of a combo guard than a pure point who finished with more turnovers than assists over the course of his three-year collegiate career.
Still, the Lakers may have found value in Clarkson, as some projected him to go significantly higher than his No. 46 overall selection. He can provide some nice scoring punch off the bench.
Re-signing Jordan Farmar on the cheap would be a nice bridge to whatever the true long-term solution is.
Los Angeles can also put in offers on restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas.
The Suns have maintained all year that they are prepared to match any offers for Bledsoe, and though Thomas has proved a lot of people wrong, his flaws are glaring, and overpaying for him is not a wise move.
Starter: Kobe Bryant
There is no doubt that Bryant will be back and raring to go once the new season gets underway.
The question is who else will be there to ease his burden.
If Jodie Meeks' secretly great season went undetected by the rest of the league, he would be welcomed back into the fold. He was one of the lone bright spots in a tough season for the Lakers, and contenders are always looking to add shooters to round out their rosters.
Xavier Henry and Kent Bazemore both showed their merits last season. Keeping one of those guys around to develop is a good idea. Henry has the higher ceiling, but Bazemore may have the lower cost.
Nick Young opted out of his contract to nobody's surprise, and he is due a sizable raise after scoring nearly 18 points per game in 2014. He likely will not be worth the investment this time around.
Los Angeles will probably head back to the bargain bin to see if they can dig up a couple more cheap value guys.
Anthony Morrow would be a good replacement for Meeks as a deadly outside shooter. Ditto for Alan Anderson.
They can also take a shot on former first-round pick Jared Cunningham, late of the Sacramento Kings.
Here is where the Lakers' chief hopes lie in free agency.
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are both unrestricted free agents, and L.A. will be gunning for one, if not both.
Landing both would require someone to take Steve Nash's contract off of the Lakers' hands without sending back any salary, and then both stars accepting below-max deals. Not likely.
Convincing just one of them to come to L.A. may be a long shot too, as the Lakers' roster situation looks none too enticing from the outside.
There are several other solid free-agent options available as well, such as Luol Deng and former Laker Trevor Ariza.
Bringing back Wes Johnson is a possibility, albeit an unexciting one. Or L.A. can take a flier on another failed former lottery selection—an avenue upon which they found success in 2014—like Al-Farouq Aminu, Marvin Williams or (gulp) Michael Beasley.
An intriguing under-the-radar name to watch is Jordan Hamilton, most recently a member of the Houston Rockets.
Starter: Julius Randle
Randle should come in and start from day one. Throw him into the fire and let him make as many mistakes as necessary in order to develop into a great player quickly.
The Lakers should also seek to re-sign their sole draft pick from last year, Ryan Kelly.
Kelly showed a lot of promise as a rookie with his scoring touch and ability to stretch the floor. He doesn't move the needle much on defense, but he can be a very capable stretch 4 off the bench.
This crop of free-agent power forwards is dull. There are a couple big names at the top—Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki—who likely aren't going anywhere, but the list after that is a bunch of replacement-level journeymen and washed-up veterans.
Backup(s): Robert Sacre
Sacre is under contract, but for L.A.'s sake, he better not be in the starting lineup on opening night.
Bringing back Pau Gasol is still a possibility, but you have to feel that Gasol has played his last game as a Laker and both sides have moved on from that relationship.
Re-signing Jordan Hill would be a strong option. Hill has proven to be one of the best rebounders in the entire league, but he hasn't gotten the playing time to truly break out.
There are concerns whether playing him alongside Julius Randle would be healthy for a defense, but those two would at least dominate on the glass. Plus, Hill showed serious flashes of a developing offensive game. This may be the last chance for a team to sign him at a reasonable price.
As for Chris Kaman, after the rough time he had in L.A. a season ago, it's doubtful whether he would even want to return.
As usual, the center crop is very thin in free agency. Marcin Gortat will be sought after by enough teams to send his market price soaring, but Spencer Hawes is an interesting option if the bidding on his services remains in check.
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