6 free agents the Lakers could target this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2022-23 NBA season has officially ended without a championship after falling to the Denver Nuggets 4-0 in the Western Conference Finals, which even led LeBron James to ponder retirement.
The Lakers started the season with a 2-10 record, and immediately fans began to count them out for any success. But some much-needed moves (trading Russell Westbrook and adding D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley) at the traded deadline gave them the push they needed, which allowed them to go a conference-best 18-9 after the deadline.
It wouldn’t be enough, though, to defeat the Nuggets — despite storming through the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors.
But now, all eyes are on the current roster and how they can attain more success for the upcoming season. So will the organization look to keep the team together, or will they seek outside help in free agency to bolster the team for another playoff push?
Here’s a look at a few possible offseason targets that L.A. may show interest in this summer:
There have been many whispers that a LeBron-Kyrie reunion could be on the horizon. The 31-year-old Dallas Mavericks star guard is eligible for a four-year, $220.6 million deal in free agency this summer if he re-signs with Dallas.
The former Cleveland Cavalier played alongside LeBron for three seasons and the pair won the infamous “3-1” championship against the Warriors in 2016. While Irving is no stranger to making a home with a new team, whether he looks to take his talent to L.A. is left to be seen.
Reaves instantly became an integral part of L.A.’s success this season after just his second NBA campaign and first playoff run.
The 24-year-old shooting guard averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists in the postseason.
It’s clear that this is a player the Lakers want to have around for seasons to come. And while Reaves has become an attractive player that many teams want, there might not be much motivation for him to leave. Especially after telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin in April that “I would love to be here my whole career.”
3. James Harden
One key player that makes a lot of sense to add to the Lakers’ backcourt is James Harden.
The Philadelphia 76ers guard could become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines his $35.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season. A Los Angeles native who played his high school basketball in the area until attending Arizona State, he could join the Lakers and provide James with some much-needed rest as another ball handler for the team.
Harden finished his season with the Sixers averaging 21.0 points and 10.7 assists while shooting 44.1% from the field, 38.5% from beyond the arc and 86.7% from the free-throw line.
If signing Irving seems out of reach for the Lakers, there is a point guard that could be on the Lakers’ radar if they don’t re-sign Russell: Raptors star Fred VanVleet.
VanVleet is coming off a bit of a rocky season for the Raptors (19.3 points, 7.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds) but if they want to make a major improvement at point guard, they’ll likely have to sacrifice a majority of their cap space.
Toronto may let VanVleet walk this summer, which would leave him as a top target for the Lakers.
The Lakers may want to take another chance on the team’s former guard Jordan Clarkson – who, since leaving Los Angeles in 2018, has grown quite a bit.
The nine-year veteran has become one Utah Jazz’s best assets, after delivering a career season. Clarkson has averaged 17.8 points per game in 250 games with the Jazz. This past season, he posted a career-high 20.8 points per game on 44.4% shooting and 33.8% from beyond the arc.
If the Lakers are looking for an athletic player who is still in their prime and is preferably not too pricey, then Clarkson fits the bill.
Draymond Green’s days with the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors may be coming to an end. After a stellar 11-year run with Golden State and four NBA championships, Green could opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. And he’s already been linked to the Lakers.
Green, who is also represented by Klutch Sports, has been very vocal about his friendship with James and that type of chemistry could translate well onto the floor.
Is LeBron James a free agent?
LeBron James will play the upcoming season in the final year of his contract, which will pay him $46.9 million. James has the option to opt out of the deal for the 2024-25 season.
Who are the Lakers’ free agents?
Here’s a look at a complete list of the Lakers’ 2023 free agents:
Lonnie Walker IV
Malik Beasley (team option)
Troy Brown Jr.
Austin Reaves (restricted)
Rui Hachimura (restricted)
Scotty Pippen Jr. (restricted)
Will Kyrie Irving be a free agent this summer?
Irving finished the 2022-23 season with the Mavericks and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.