The Lakers could steal one of the Warriors’ three star free agents on the open market this summer, adding to a group that’s primarily been centered around LeBron James, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes.
Golden State is currently fixated on making a lengthy playoff run this spring, but the futures of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins have quietly loomed over the franchise throughout the season. Thompson and Cousins are set to enter unrestricted free agency on July 1, while Durant holds a player option worth $31.5MM.
“I’ve never played fantasy basketball,” James told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck last week. “But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That’s why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise. So I’ll be as active as I need to be for us to get better and go from there.”
The buzz among various NBA executives, scouts and media members suggests that Durant is ready to leave Golden State, according to Pincus. Thompson could remain on the team if he’s offered a max deal, while both Cousins and the Warriors have already agreed that a return is unlikely (albeit not impossible).
The Lakers will look to be aggressive in free agency with an estimated $34MM in cap space. The team also has several young assets that can be included in a trade, should the club look to revive negotiations with New Orleans on star forward Anthony Davis. The idea of having arguably the two best basketball players on the planet could be an appealing factor for Durant if he considers joining the Lakers, as he’s already known to be close friends with James.
There’s more today out of Los Angeles:
- Rajon Rondo has built equity in the Lakers’ locker room ahead of his upcoming free agency, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Rondo, who has already stated his intentions of wanting to return next season, has helped the team’s younger players in the locker room and during games as a veteran leader this year. “He’s been a bright spot as far as what we’re building and what we’re trying to do,” coach Luke Walton said. “One of our top priorities with a lot of young guys was to continue to grow them as quickly as possible. And his leadership and the way his teammates look at him and toward him has been great.”
- Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype explains why Alex Caruso deserves to be brought back by the Lakers next season. Caruso, 25, provided a spark off the bench against the Clippers on Friday, adding 32 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in 38 well-rounded minutes.
- Juwan Howard has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Lakers’ head coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed, as Andy Kamenetzky writes for The Athletic. Howard has maintained a strong relationship with LeBron James and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, with the former NBA player spending his past six seasons as an assistant coach in Miami.