Though rumors swirled concerning the future of Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Steve Nash, and others, the only trade the Los Angeles Lakers made involved Steve Blake, who was having a career year (9.7 points, 7.5 assists). So looking at it all, what is the Lakers’ plan?
Loyalty. The Lakers signed Kobe Bryant to a monster, two-year contract (nearly $50 million), which made no sense financially for the team, but demonstrated the team’s loyalty to a Lakers’ icon — something Jerry Buss needs to work on. This may have set things up for the future with Kobe and other teammates. This contract may be symbolic and Bryant may “graciously” take a pay cut to allow Los Angeles to sign more players as a return show of loyalty and a possible championship ring.
Rumors floated about over the past few years involving Gasol, the Lakers never traded the Spaniard. Look for the Lakers to resign Gasol for much less than the $19 million he’s getting paid this year for a last ditch run for a couple titles with his friend Kobe.
The Support Pieces. Also, look for Los Angeles to resign Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman, MarShon Brooks, and a few others at a reduced rate. They will be parts of the puzzle that the Miami Heat did not have in their first year of a super team. Don’t be surprised if the Lakers resign Steve Blake next year. Currently, the Lakers only have four players under contract for the 2014-15 season: Bryant ($23.5 million), Nash ($9.7), Robert Scarce ($915,000), Kendall Marshall ($915,000) and Young has a ($1.2) player option.
The Lakers also possesses a first-round draft pick and where they are positioned presently, they will select Julius Randle, the power forward from Kentucky. Could this pick be trade bait as well.
The Big Acquisition(s). The Lakers have a knack for signing the “right” free agents or pulling off the big trade. Before next year begins, Los Angeles will sign Carmelo Anthony and/or make a trade for Kevin Love. Anthony apparently wants out of New York and Love wants to return to Los Angeles. Who knows, with Dwayne Wade’s skills diminishing, LeBron James may sign with the Lakers for an extended run of consecutive championships instead of one of the others. LeBron may only be a pipedream.
So the question become what three stars will the Lakers have next year? Bryant is a given, but will they add Gasol and Anthony or will they be able to add Love as well. Or Anthony and Love, but not Gasol? For 2014-15, the salary cap stands at $62.1 million and a luxury cap at $75.7 million, so figure out the math.
There are many Lakers’ detractors out there, and many are criticizing Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss, but believe that men who orchestrated the voided trade for Chris Paul will come up with something to make Los Angeles contenders in 2014-15.
Imagine the starting lineup of Gasol, Love, Anthony, Bryant, and Marshall (Blake or Nash) with Randle, Hill, Nick Young, and other coming off the bench.
Lakers’ fans can dream.