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NBA 2019-20: 3 Burning questions for Los Angeles Lakers heading into the offseason

Jason Mills
ANALYST
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Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Frank Vogel as new head coach
Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Frank Vogel as new head coach

The Los Angeles Lakers are a storied franchise. They have been in the NBA for 71 years appearing in the playoffs after 60 of those seasons. 

Lakers have won 16 championships and have had NBA greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jamal Wilkes, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant to thank for many of the glory years. 

In 2018/19, the team known as “Showtime” was expected to dominate again by adding this generation’s best player, LeBron James. Instead, we got a circus. The Lakers missed the playoffs by finishing 37-45 on the season. It led to the firing of their head coach Luke Walton, the resignation of team president Magic Johnson and questions about who’s running the team was raised.

On June 15th, 2019, before the NBA Draft, all of that drama may have changed back to the showtime masterpiece the Lakers usually are. 

Armed with the No. 4 pick in the NBA Entry Draft, the Lakers agreed to part ways with it including players Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball in exchange for the service of former Pelicans center Anthony Davis.

In order to maximize cap space to go after one more megastar starting June 30th when the free agency window opens the Lakers got Davis to waive a $4million dollar signing bonus.

A secondary trade, in order to facilitate a free agent signing of significance, the Lakers general manager Rob Palenka sent a second-round pick, Moritz Wagner, along with Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, to the Washington Wizards to clear even more cap space expanding the deal with the Pelicans to a three-team trade, as the Wizards sent the Pelicans $1.1 million.

Now with six players traded away, The Lakers have only James, Davis and Kuzma under contract for next season and also have $32 million to spend on a max-level type player. This would mean just 4 players under contract. 

The Lakers obviously need a roster of 15 players and have a lot of questions to be answered starting at 6:00 pm Eastern on Sunday, June 30th when free agency begins. Here's a look at three important questions the Lakers need to address:

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#3 $32 million in cap on one max-level player or two good players?

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five
Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five

The Lakers have three players under contract. A center, a point forward and a small forward. There are 12 roster spots the Lakers need to fill. 

$32 million is a lot of money, but not really in the NBA relative to the Knicks $70 million. While the Knicks might struggle to spend their cap room, the Lakers should be able to attract free agents of good caliber based on the team’s track record.

If the Lakers opt to sign a Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving, then, the remaining 11 roster spots are filled out by mid-level exception type veterans, minimum salary veterans or young players on one or two-year deals that are cheap. 

The Lakers could drop their sights to pursue a pair of two-way players in the mold of Danny Green, who made $10 million this past season playing for Toronto, and is a free agent. If a player like Green were to accept even a two-year deal at $26 million, (total its $13 million a year a raise of $3 million a year) the Lakers could get three players in that scenario. 

In one case, the Lakers could have four-star players who they lean on for heavy minutes with LeBron James, now 34-years-old, coming off a bad groin pull.

In the other case, two superstars with one rising young star and several dependable role players. Either way, Rob Palenka has got a tough decision to make.  

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