This is going to be a big offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. There are new shot-callers at the helm, and this roster needs some serious work if the franchise plans on being taken seriously anytime soon. That’s why 2017 NBA Free Agency will be a huge opportunity for this team.
Shelvin Mack, PG, Utah Jazz
Depending on what happens this offseason, the Lakers could be in need of a backup point guard. D’Angelo Russell has the starting job locked down, but there’s no guarantee Tyler Ennis re-signs. If that’s the case, Los Angeles could look to sign a notable name like Shelvin Mack. Mack is no star in the making, but the Lakers don’t need him to be. What they need is a sparkplug off the bench who can drain jumpers and provide some playmaking capabilities. That’s exactly what this 2011 second round pick brings to the table. He pitched in 7.8 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Utah Jazz during the 2016-17 regular season while serving as one of the team’s top backup guards.
Donatas Motiejunas, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Before you start laughing, hear me out. Donatas Motiejunas isn’t an exciting big man by any means, but the Lakers will likely need a cheap depth piece at center heading into 2017-18. That is, if the team opts to decline Tarik Black’s option.
Black is a solid piece of the roster, but the Lakers may not want to pay him the $6.6 million he’s owed. The emergence of Ivica Zubac could facilitate his departure from Los Angeles, which would leave the team with only two options at center–Timofey Mozgov and Zubac. Adding another low-cost contributor would be ideal.
Not long ago, Motiejunas was seen as a decent center who could hold his own as a backup paint presence. While his stock has seen a steep decline in the last year or so, I still believe he can make a noticeable impact if given a chance. He wasn’t anything spectacular with the New Orleans Pelicans this past season, but he proved he could still play a few minutes per game without embarrassing himself.
James Johnson, PF, Miami Heat
Okay, so maybe James Johnson isn’t going to be the cheapest player available this offseason. However, despite his breakout 2016-17 campaign, there’s a good chance he could still be a bargain based on the impact he can provide.
This past season, Johnson brought in only $4 million with the Heat. More than likely, he’ll command much more on the open market this offseason after putting together a monster year. Throughout the regular season, he averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. That type of production will absolutely warrant a raise when free agency rolls around.
Derrick Williams, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Derrick Williams never quite lived up to the hype as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Despite his underwhelming efforts in the league, he’s carved out a role for himself in recent years as a capable playmaker off the bench.
He’s currently serving in that role with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who likely don’t have the money to re-sign him this offseason. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to command big bucks on the open market. He played for the Cavaliers on a minimum deal this year, and likely won’t get much more than that during free agency.
Luc Mbah a Moute, SF, Los Angeles Clippers (Player Option)
If the Lakers could land Luc Mbah a Moute during the upcoming free agency period, I think they’d be very happy with the end results. While not a big name, he’s an underrated, underappreciated small forward who can wreak havoc as a starter or off the bench.
While Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily need another starting small forward, I believe he’d be an excellent addition to this team. He can continue to soak up minutes while Brandon Ingram develops, and provide a tremendous presence as a 3-and-D wing player.