The Los Angeles Lakers have been a lottery team for several years now with many failed attempts at recruiting big name free agents. But of course they made the biggest signing possible with the acquisition of LeBron James, making them a relevant team once again. The current roster is filled with veterans as well as younger players with high potential - but it certainly isn't good enough to contend for a championship.
James was well-aware that the team wouldn't be ready to go all the way just yet, hoping that the Lakers could recruit some other All-Stars to the Lakers. With many stars rumored to be available in trade discussions, as well as an upcoming class of free agents that is filled with elite talent - the Lakers have already prepared to target these players. And while many of them would surely make a great with the team, there are some who may not be worth the risk. With any trade move, the Lakers would have to include some of their younger players and possibly some draft picks as well.
As for free agent signings, the team would have to commit to a player for multiple years - making it a risky decision for the Lakers. With James turning 34 years old in December, the Lakers' window will be short as far as contending and they will have to make major moves as soon as possible. With today's list, we look at 10 stars the Los Angeles Lakers should be targeting and 10 they should avoid.
20 Should Be Targeting: Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is set to be a free agent next summer, and while he has declared his intention to stay, that won't stop multiple teams from reaching out to him. Thompson would make an ideal fit next to LeBron as he is a great player off the ball and would get plenty of open looks as a Laker.
The team also has the cap space to offer him a lucrative contract as well as some attractive pieces to lure him away from the Warriors.
If the Lakers miss out on their top targets listed here, Thompson is likely to be next in line.
19 Should Avoid: Marc Gasol
Not only is Marc Gasol getting older but his fit with the Los Angeles Lakers is a questionable one. At this point of his career, and considering the current play style of the NBA, Gasol may not be enough to push the Lakers past the Golden State Warriors or even the Houston Rockets. Unless the Lakers strike out on the top free agents of the 2019 class, then they should avoid going after Gasol. But if they do acquire him on a reasonable contract - leaving enough cap space for another All-Star player - then it wouldn't be the worst deal for the Lakers.
18 Should Be Targeting: Al Horford
Al Horford may not receive the hype of a star but his impact has been massive enough to make him a top player in the NBA.
From leading the Atlanta Hawks to multiple years of success to his current stint with the Boston Celtics, Horford has remained one of the elite bigs in the league.
And while he might not have many years left as one, Horford would still be a great acquisition for the Lakers. It is unlikely that he will be compensated as a maximum player, which would justify a move for his services in the upcoming offseason.
17 Should Avoid: John Wall
John Wall has been good enough to be ranked as one of the best point guards in the league, but there are still some question marks regarding his shot consistency. And with a maximum contract to his name, he hasn't attracted much enough around the league as not everyone happens to be convinced that he is worth the top dollar he is earning.
The Lakers have been previously linked with Wall in the past, and there is a connection with LeBron James as both happen to be clients of Klutch Sports Group, but it may not be the wisest move for the team.
16 Should Be Targeting: Damian Lillard
One name that has been recently linked to the Los Angeles Lakers is Damien Lillard, who may be available in trade talks if the Portland Trail Blazers have an underwhelming season. Rumors suggest that LeBron James wants to play for Lillard and may be the driving force behind his potential acquisition. On paper, they would make a great fit that would make them one of the best duos in the league. But it remains to be seen whether the Blazers are willing to move Lillard - and there is also a chance that he might not want to join the Lakers.
15 Should Avoid: Mike Conley
With the Memphis Grizzlies expected to have yet another disappointing season, Mike Conley could be on his way out of town as he has found himself in trade rumors for the past year.
Given that the Lakers will be recruiting All-Star players to the team, Conley may get some consideration from management.
And while he is undoubtedly a great player, the Lakers may be unwilling to pay him massive wages especially since he has had a number of injuries in the past few years. The Lakers are better off recruiting other players as Conley may not be the answer to their team problems.
14 Should Be Targeting: Giannis Antetokounmpo
When Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent in 2021, many NBA teams will be lining up to acquire him. In multiple interviews, Giannis has expressed loyalty towards the Bucks, revealing his wish to bring a championship to the city. But of course that has never stopped players from switching teams as we have witnessed in past years. Seeing as the Los Angeles Lakers want to compete as soon as possible, they may attempt to trade for him. But unless Giannis is on board with a move away in the near future, then the Bucks won't be dealing him anytime soon.
13 Should Avoid: DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan signed a one year deal with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer, allowing him to earn a bigger contract next offseason while exploring more options on the market. A return to Los Angeles may not be entirely unrealistic for Jordan as long as the Lakers miss out on their top targets. Jordan could provide plenty of improvements to their frontcourt but not enough to make them a championship contender.
LeBron James was reportedly attempting to convince the Cleveland Cavaliers of trading some assets for Jordan last year, so we wouldn't be surprised to see LeBron's wish coming true with the Lakers.
12 Should Be Targeting: Kevin Durant
According to recent rumors, Kevin Durant and LeBron James have discussed the possibility of teaming up next year when the former becomes a free agent. There is no question that the Lakers would welcome him aboard as the duo would put them in contention for a championship.
Durant is said to be one of the Lakers' targets, so it isn't entirely out of the question for him to begin a new journey in L.A.
Now that Durant has won two championships with the Golden State Warriors with a third possibly on the way, he may be willing to go elsewhere to prove all doubters wrong.
11 Should Avoid: DeMarcus Cousins
Prior to his signing with the Golden State Warriors, there were rumors that DeMarcus Cousins would be joining the Los Angeles Lakers. It is probably for the best that the two sides didn't come to an agreement since they don't make an ideal fit. The Lakers need a more reliable All-Star player who could instantly contribute to their play. On the other hand, Cousins needed a franchise that would allow him to slowly return to form prior to injury. Considering the pressure that comes with being a Laker, it would not have been the most suitable situation for Cousins.
10 Should Be Targeting: Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal was one of the many names discussed over the summer as a target for the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Washington Wizards struggling in the playoffs, there had been talks of splitting up the core with Beal being the more likely candidate to be placed on the block. Beal would be a great fit for the Lakers as he provides them with much needed scoring from the guard position. And if the Wizards end up having another underwhelming showing in the postseason, then it is possible that the Lakers make a move to acquire Beal as their starting shooting guard.
9 Should Avoid: Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry's future as a Toronto Raptors player may be dependent on Kawhi Leonard's decision come next summer. If the latter opts to switch teams, then Toronto won't have no choice but to go for a rebuild - which would see many of their players exit. That would make Lowry available in trade talks, but the Lakers would be better off passing on him.
Despite being one of the better two way guards in the league, Lowry doesn't have many years left as a top player.
The other issue is his contract isn't exactly cap friendly for a team that aims to go all in for a championship.
8 Should Be Targeting: Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is now in Philadelphia, as the 76ers are done trying to build for the future. They're going for it now. While Butler will play out the rest of the season in Philly, he'll be hitting the free agent market and it's no given that he'll wind up getting along with the 76ers' young stars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It's very possible that Butler moves on this summer yet again.
If the interest between the two sides is mutual, then the Lakers should attempt to acquire Butler as he would be an immense addition to the team - making the team one of the best on paper.
7 Should Avoid: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl Anthony Towns is one of the elite offensive players in the NBA. But his defense and mentality have decreased his value in recent times due to accusations regarding his lack of desire to win. But if the Minnesota Timberwolves give the slightest hint that he may be available, then he will surely generate plenty of interest across the league. And while he could reach his full potential in the future, the Lakers would have to pay a hefty price that may not greatly improve the team. Many players would make a better addition to the team for a lesser price.
6 Should Be Targeting: Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker has always put up impressive numbers for the Charlotte Hornets, but it appears that he may have taken his game to the next level this year.
As long as he continues displaying the same form, then Walker is due for a major payday in the offseason.
Several teams are said to be interested in him, especially the New York Knicks who were linked to Walker over the summer. But the Lakers may be an even better fit if the team opts to move on from the Lonzo Ball era, thus allowing Walker to take over the PG role.
5 Should Avoid: DeMar DeRozan
Prior to his extension with the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan had been linked with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers although he declined to even grant them a meeting. Now that he is a San Antonio Spur, DeRozan is expected to prove his doubters wrong by continuing to dominate throughout the regular season, while also stepping up his game in the postseason. But if he happens to fall short of expectations, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Spurs deal him away. The Lakers could once again come into play for DeRozan, although his playoff performances make him a questionable addition to the team.
4 Should Be Targeting: Anthony Davis
Talks of Anthony Davis leaving the New Orleans Pelicans have increased in recent months with multiple media members reporting a potential exit. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics appear to have the highest odds of acquiring him in the near future with claims that Davis may be tempted to move away. Unless the Pelicans can convince Davis that the team is good enough to contend for a championship, then it is unlikely that they keep him beyond 2020. This current season will be crucial in determining how the future plays out for all sides involved as it may sway Davis' mind towards an exit.
3 Should Avoid: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving revealed his wish to extend his stay with the Boston Celtics beyond this season with plans to renew his contract. He remains a potential target for many teams in the league including the Lakers, but they should probably look elsewhere considering that Irving didn't want to be in the shadow of LeBron James.
While the duo achieved plenty of success on the court, it appears they didn't have a great personal relationship - leading to the Irving's sudden departure from the team.
There are many point guards who would be just as good of a fit as Irving without the potential headaches that come with his signature.
2 Should Be Targeting: Kawhi Leonard
Earlier this summer, the Lakers engaged in trade talks with the San Antonio Spurs in hopes of landing Kawhi Leonard. But the team wasn't willing to part with some of their main assets, opting to wait until free agency to sign Leonard. As of now, Leonard remains one of the top targets for the Lakers since he has been rumored to desire playing for his hometown.
With a top five player in Leonard, the Lakers would instantly become a championship contender as he would form an all-time great duo with LeBron James. If the interest is mutual as reported, then the Lakers should definitely chase Leonard in free agency.
1 Should Avoid: Kevin Love
Since LeBron James enjoyed playing with Kevin Love in previous seasons, it makes him a trade candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers. His recent extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers may not attract many suitors, but if the Lakers can't find another All-Star to join the team - they may have no other options. Love wasn't particularly playing at a great level during his run with James, so the Lakers are better off trying a different duo. There are a number of big men available on the market who would make a superior fit for the Lakers, if they are willing to part with some assets.