Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Draft Plans, Free-Agent Targets and More
The biggest news around the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason so far is the hiring of coach Luke Walton.
Landing the second pick in the upcoming draft wasn’t unexpected for L.A., especially not in the hindsight of a by-the-books draft lottery. It’s easy to presume the Lakers might look to deal the pick or otherwise select an elite prospect by the name of Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons.
A slow start to the offseason could snowball into something major in a hurry, though. This is the offseason Lakers fans must have circled for years, especially once Kobe Bryant revealed his retirement plans.
As such, it’s best to dive into the situation prepared. Let’s narrow down the buzz around the franchise by breaking down the nuggets to know.
Filling Out the Staff
Walton has yet to fill out his coaching staff.
While that’s not a major concern at this point of the offseason, it’s never good to see a setback when a candidate decides to go elsewhere.
Such is the case with new Memphis Grizzlies‘ associate head coach JB Bickerstaff, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Bickerstaff directed the Houston Rockets as best he could this past season after the team canned Kevin McHale 11 games into the season. According to ESPN.com, he withdrew his name from the head coaching search in Houston and weighed Los Angeles before putting ink to paper with Memphis.
Losing out to Memphis, which went 42-40 last year and could lose big-name point Mike Conley to free agency, isn’t the best sign.
At the least, Los Angeles’ interest in Bickerstaff continues the team’s theme of wanting to surround Walton with as much experience as possible as he attempts to build and guide a young stable of players into a new era.
Said era won’t include Bickerstaff, but expect similarly experienced coaches to be on the wish list.
Brandon Ingram Visit?
Los Angeles might have to wait and see how the Philadelphia 76ers approach the first pick, but it won’t stop the team from doing its due diligence on the top names available.
Such is the case with Duke’s Ingram, who will pay the team a visit, according to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding:
Ingram might be the best-case scenario for the Lakers at No. 2, should they keep the pick.
The Duke product put up 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last year while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep. That last number is much better than Simmons’ 33 percent clip from deep at LSU.
The Los Angeles lineup could use the spacing and reliability from all ranges with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson in the backcourt and Julius Randle down low needing the space to operate.
A nugget from an ESPN.com scouting report put it well: “Ingram’s ability to stretch the floor and defend multiple players on defense should fit great with L.A.’s current roster. While his lack of bulk and strength may make the game rougher on him for now, he would give the Lakers a major talent boost.”
Los Angeles cannot go wrong with the second pick, as the team already has a budding young core in place with a top-two pick on the way and a new coach to help entice free agents to join the fray.
If the pick is Ingram, the team can boast versatility alongside everything else. The Lakers sound ready for a one-on-one meet with their potential star of the future.
The DeMar DeRozan Sweepstakes
Los Angeles might understand better than most the challenge the Toronto Raptors face this offseason in attempting to keep star DeMar DeRozan in town.
In fact, the Lakers might be paying more attention than most.
They have an affinity for DeRozan because he hails from the area. When a team—even the Lakers—struggles so much, it looks for any and all selling points it can manage on the open market.
From the sound of it, the Lakers hope the locale paired with a large briefcase filled with cash will do the trick, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet: “The NBA grapevine is rife with intelligence saying that his hometown Lakers will offer him the moon.”
Then again, Ding suggested it’s best that folks temper expectations when it comes to this one, according to Sirius XM’s Noah Coslov:
Regardless, DeRozan offers plenty of value for a rebuilding team such as the Lakers. He averaged 23.5 points per game at 26 years old while shooting a career-best 34 percent from deep.
Position DeRozan in the backcourt next to a high-profile rookie with the other mentioned pieces in place, and the Lakers contend for a playoff spot perhaps right away; the ceiling is unknown, given the future growth of the new core.
In Grange’s article, it sounds like DeRozan won’t think too much on other destinations, but it’s a different beast now compared to when the gates open and the offers begin to flow. Los Angeles would be silly not to elbow for room and throw out an offer—just in case.
Los Angeles isn’t in a position to get picky with free agents, given the lack of success on the market over the years. DeRozan perhaps isn’t the top target, but the team has a strong selling point should it choose to put on a full-court press.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.