At the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers had a record of 49-14 which placed them at 1st in the Western Conference and 2nd in the league. The Los Angeles Lakers had a vastly different look this season and it was extremely successful. The Lakers gave up a lot in order to land Anthony Davis and it payed off, launching them from a lottery team just last season to the top team in the western conference and one of the favourites to win the 2020 NBA championship. If Anthony Davis chooses to stay with this team for at least next year, the Lakers have the chance to win a few more championships and LeBron has the opportunity to add even more accolades to his already incredible career. With a few key bench players entering free agency, the Lakers will have to make some decisions about what to surround their two stars with. Based on what we have seen from them this season, the Lakers desperately need to add some shooting to their roster. This season, the Lakers ranked 17th in the league in three-point percentage and while it is great to have Danny Green in the line-up, they need more of him if they are to become even more dangerous on offence. Additionally, The Lakers’ defence suffered with LeBron off the court which means the team will have to add more defensive players to come off the bench and keep the team afloat while the stars rest. As LeBron becomes even older, this will become more and more crucial as I can only assume James will slow down at some point. They will also have to make some decisions surrounding their big-man rotation with Dwight Howard expected to see a significantly higher salary after his career-saving season with the Lakers.
Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers have 6 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. They have several players with options, most notably, Anthony Davis. Davis has a $28.7 million player option which almost everyone expects him to opt into. It was made clear by Davis that he wanted to be in LA playing with LeBron and their chemistry is outstanding. In the event that Davis does opt out, I believe it will be for him to get more money on a longer contract to stay in LA, I can’t see him going to another team this offseason, especially given the league’s current salary cap situation. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a $8.5 million player option which I expect him to opt into along with Avery Bradley with his $5 million player option and JaVale McGee with his $4.2 million player option. These players have all worked their way into fringe starter roles and look to be really enjoying their time on the Lakers. They are all expected to stay on lower salaries with the understanding that they will be championship favourites for at least next season. Finally, Rajon Rondo has a $2.7 million player option which I expect him to opt out of. Rondo has had a solid enough season and will most likely opt out in order to go after a larger salary, whether that is realistic or not. He may end up on the Lakers if he does not get any offers on the open market, but it is most likely a team with cap space will want to sign him to be their starting point guard for next season. The only way I can see him opting in is if he chooses to go after another championship rather than money late in his career. Kostas Antetokounmpo is a restricted free agency and is expected to be brought back on his $1.6 million qualifying offer. The Lakers have several unrestricted free agents in Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley, Dwight Howard and Dion Waiters. At this moment, the Lakers also project to have a $9.25 million mid-level exception and a $3.6 million bi-annual exception available to them.
Depth Chart –
The Los Angeles Lakers will enter free agency with some important decisions to make. Having said this, they still project to be one of the quieter teams in the upcoming free agency period. If Anthony Davis declines his player option, he is extremely likely to re-sign with the Lakers on a larger salary. I predict that Rondo will be on the open market and I do not think it will be worth bringing him back due to having LeBron able to play the point guard position along with the rise of Alex Caruso. The Lakers should look to either bring back their existing big men or find more suitable replacements. With the limited amount of affordable options in this weaker free agency class, it is likely the Lakers will attempt to run it back and continue their dominance of the western conference in the quest for a potential second championship run. They will have to use their mid-level exception to re-sign Dwight Howard as he has come of a career saving season and will be worth a lot more money this season. Markieff Morris is also a player who is worth bringing back to back up Anthony Davis. Finally, depending on his performance in the bubble, they may want to bring back Dion Waiters to provide some shooting backup off the bench while LeBron and Davis are off the court.
The Los Angeles Lakers will have the 29th projected pick in the 2020 NBA draft. While I expect the Lakers to draft with this pick, I am unsure if any late first round prospects in this weaker draft will be able to get any minutes on this championship contending team. With the 29th projected pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers should look to take Daniel Oturu, a 6’10” center out of Minnesota. Oturu is a young center who has good size and projects to be able to stretch the floor in the NBA which could be helpful to this version of the Lakers. With their current big man line-up reaching the end of their primes, it could be useful to start developing a younger center to use when their current line-up of stars move on to retirement.
The Los Angeles Lakers will enter the 2020 offseason most likely looking to run it back for another championship run, providing they are able to retain Anthony Davis which seems almost certain. They already have a fairly solidified guard rotation and will focus on retaining their big men as well as drafting some size to replace some of their older players down the line. No matter what happens in these playoffs, the Lakers still project to be title contenders for at least the next season.
Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –
Players IN: Daniel Oturu
Players OUT: Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley