5 big-name free agents Los Angeles Lakers must avoid in 2017
While the Los Angeles Lakers will be looking to make a splash during 2017 NBA Free Agency, they’d be wise to avoid these big names when the market opens.
It’s undoubtedly going to be an interesting offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka now steering this team in a new direction, it’s anyone’s guess what the future could hold for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.
While the 2017 NBA Draft (and more specifically, the lottery) will play a huge role in this team’s progress, the bigger piece of the story could unfold during 2017 NBA Free Agency. At that point, the Lakers will be charged with finding capable contributors without overspending like they did last offseason.
Not only does Los Angeles lack the means to go on a spending spree, but they need to avoid handing out overpriced contracts that restrict their financial flexibility further down the road. Making smart investments will be of the utmost importance, especially with a couple of big names on their 2018 radar,
That’s why the Lakers need to avoid a few of the big-name free agents who could be available this offseason.
So who are these big names to steer clear of? Let’s take a look at five who don’t belong with the Lakers unless they’re willing to sign cheap deals to join one of the NBA’s worst teams, which we all know isn’t going to happen.
Andre Roberson, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder (Restricted)
Now I know Andre Roberson isn’t the biggest of names slated for free agency this offseason. However, much of the talk right now is about how much the defensive-minded wing is going to garner on the open market. That alone is why the Lakers need to avoid him.
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Right now, Los Angeles should be focused on finding cheap, quality contributors who can keep this team afloat while the rebuild continues. They need to avoid handing out more overpriced contracts that eat away at what little cap space they have left, especially if the team plans on signing Paul George next offseason
Signing Roberson would do exactly that. Despite how good he is on defense, I’m not convinced he’s worthy of the deal it would take to sign him away from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s a limited option on offense, having shot a measly 24.5 percent from deep while averaging only 6.6 points per game in 2016-17.
The Lakers need more for their money, even if it would mean upping their game on defense. I’m all for the franchise focusing its attention on slowing opponents down in 2017-18, but dishing out massive deals for one-dimensional players isn’t the way to do it. Sign some underrated wings who are plus defenders and let another team overpay for Roberson.
Dion Waiters, SG, Miami Heat (Player Option)
I know Dion Waiters enjoyed a breakout year with the Heat. He’s finally looking somewhat worthy of the No. 4 overall pick the Cleveland Cavaliers used on him back in 2012. That, however, doesn’t mean he should be a target for the Lakers this offseason.
This past season, Waiters put up career highs in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game. He also connected on 39.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arch, his best in five NBA seasons. Overall, it was an outstanding showing from a guy who needed to prove he could be a star.
So why shouldn’t the Lakers go after him? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
The first is that Waiters is going to cost far too much on the open market. During the 2016-17 campaign, he pulled in just over $3 million from the Heat. After emerging as a reliable playmaker for Miami, chances are his asking price will increase significantly once he declines his player option. The Lakers, however, can’t afford to gamble big bucks on an inconsistent shooting guard.
The second is that Waiters simply can’t be relied upon to continue producing at this pace. Maybe he’s matured and found himself as an NBA-caliber talent. Or maybe it was a fluke season that will serve as the peak of his professional career. Either way, Waiters carries far too much risk for a Lakers team that must avoid bad contracts at all costs.
Kyle Korver, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Wouldn’t the Lakers love to have a knockdown three-point shooter who can come in off the bench and light it up from deep? I’m sure they would, but that doesn’t mean signing someone such as Kyle Korver is the way to do it.
We all know Korver can light up from downtown. He’s arguably one of the best three-point snipers to ever grace the hardwood, with a career 43.1 percentage from long range–seventh best in NBA history. With that being said, I still don’t believe his specialized skill set is worth the significant cap space it’ll cost to sign him.
At 36 years of age, Korver only has so much left in the tank. At this point in his career, he offers little outside of his efficiency from long range. He earned ugly marks as a defender this past season, finishing the regular season with a 112.8 defensive rating (via NBA.com). On top of that, Korver doesn’t bring much in the way of rebounding or passing.
Unless he comes at a reduced cost (he made $5.2 million this year), Korver isn’t worth the price of admission. The Lakers can likely find a younger sharpshooter with more defensive chops with a more reasonable price tag. Either way, Korver doesn’t deserve their precious cap space.
Dwyane Wade, SG, Chicago Bulls (Player Option)
Could you imagine Dwyane Wade bringing his talents to the West Coast to play for the Lakers? I could, but that doesn’t mean it would be a good move for this Los Angeles franchise currently stuck in a state of mediocrity.
There are some obvious concerns with a hypothetical deal between the Lakers and Wade. The most obvious is the dynamic scorer’s age, which currently sits a 35 years. D-Wade is no spring chicken, and is only going to continue slowing as the years go by. Chances are he’s looking to sign with a contender if he leaves Chicago, and the Lakers don’t fit the bill.
The other big issue is the money side of things. Wade is going to want big money wherever he chooses to take his talents. While I’m sure the Lakers could find the cap space if they really wanted to, is it worth it for an aging star? I would lean towards “no” being the answer to that question.
It’s fun picturing players like Wade wearing the Purple and Gold. However, if we’re being level-headed, a potential relationship between the two parties makes little sense. A Wade signing won’t be enough to fix this franchise, and it certainly isn’t going to make getting George under contract in 2018 any easier.
I’m all for adding a superstar to this Lakers roster, but signing Wade isn’t the answer.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers (Player Option)
I can hardly fathom the madness that would ensue if Blake Griffin were to spurn the Clippers and sign with the Lakers. It would be a jaw-dropping move for a player who has been a driving force behind the Clippers’ evolution into an annual contender.
With that being said, it wouldn’t be the right move for the Lakers.
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Sure, it would give them the superstar they’re so desperate for. It would also stick it to their crosstown rivals. Those two minor positives, however, don’t outweigh the numerous negatives that would accompany the addition of Griffin via free agency.
The big one for me is Griffin’s durability. He hasn’t played more than 67 games in a season since the 2013-14 campaign, and has played in only 96 games over the last two years. The Clippers were also forced to play without their dominant power forward for the second half of their playoff series against the Utah Jazz, which likely played a significant part in their elimination.
Signing Griffin would also be a big blow to Julius Randle‘s value. The former No. 7 overall pick saw his stock rise significantly this past season, emerging as a sparkplug for this Lakers franchise. All progress, however, would be halted if he were to step back into a bench role. It’s not like either player is suited for a permanent move to center.
Griffin jumping ship for the Lakers sounds like an interesting idea. When it comes down to it, though, it’s simply not the right direction for Johnson and Co. to go in. They need to acquire a superstar, but bringing in an injury-prone power forward isn’t the way to do it.