10 2014 NBA Free Agents L.A. Lakers Will Target Beyond LeBron James

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2012

10 2014 NBA Free Agents L.A. Lakers Will Target Beyond LeBron James

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    The 2012 NBA period of free agency was one that will forever define the Los Angeles Lakers as an organization. With the acquisition of stars such as Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the Lakers further established themselves as the elite of the elite.

    These paper rosters are only set to last until 2014, however, as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace will all become free agents. The Lakers' plan to overcome such a potential loss is to target the biggest name possible.

    LeBron James.

    Whether the Lakers succeed or fall short in their pursuit of King James, they cannot settle for he and no one else. The organization must pursue complementary players or even potential replacements should LeBron end up elsewhere.

    Fortunately for Jerry Buss and company, the following ten players could fill those needs.

    Note: Ages and Experience listed are according to that of 2014.

10. Thabo Sefolosha, UFA

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 30

    Experience: 8 Seasons


    If Kobe Bryant is to retire, there is no guarantee that the Lakers will find a shooting guard to take his place in the rotation. Due to that fact, the most logical step to take would be to pair a defensive-minded player with a sharpshooter until an individual can be found.

    Who better to fill the first half of those roles than Thabo Sefolosha?

    Sefolosha is one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA today. He has long locked down the best of the best at his position, including Bryant himself.

    Although this would likely be no more than a one-year deal, the Lakers could get great value out of Sefolosha. With Metta World Peace set to become a free agent, the team needs a defensive standout on the perimeter.

    Sefolosha woud be able to fill that void to perfection as he and Dwight Howard lead the Lakers to an elite defensive ranking.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    9.81 PER, 21.8 MPG, 4.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 SPG

9. Jerryd Bayless, UFA

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 26

    Experience: 6 Seasons


    Jerryd Bayless could become a free agent after the 2012-13 season, as he has a player option for 2013-14. If he opts to remain with the Grizzlies for the following season, however, he will join the class of '14 and become a prime candidate to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

    With Steve Nash hitting 41 during the 2014-15 regular season, the Lakers are likely to be inclined to pursue their point guard of the future. As long as he can remain healthy, Bayless could be that player.

    He's an offensive terror with his smooth shooting stroke and outstanding ball handling ability. Although his facilitating skills could improve, by the end of the next two years the former Arizona Wildcat should be sound in that area.

    He shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc in 2012 and averaged 11.4 points in just 22.7 minutes per game. During the month of March, Bayless put up averages of 13.6 points and 5.0 assists per night in 24.5 minutes a night.

    He also posted a slash line of .491/.476/.865.

    As previously alluded to, injuries do play a role in this decision. Bayless missed 51 games during the 2011-12 regular season and missed another 11 in 2010-11.

    Should he avoid the injury bug, however, he could be just what the Lakers are looking for.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    17.80 PER, 22.7 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.1 RPG, 42.3% 3PT

8. Kyle Lowry, UFA

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 28

    Experience: 8 Seasons


    As previously alluded to, Steve Nash will turn 41 during the 2014-15 season. This creates the need for a facilitating point guard to step in his shoes, which is exactly what Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors would be able to do.

    He'd also be a better fit for the team than Bayless due to his versatility on both ends of the floor.

    Lowry can shoot the three-ball at a high rate, hitting 37.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He also rebounds at an extraordinary rate for a point guard, grabbing 4.6 per game and at least 1.2 offensive boards in three of his six years in the league.

    Lowry rarely turns the ball over, runs the pick-and-roll to the perfection and is more fundamentally sound than your average point guard. What may be the most significant aspect of this potential signing is that Lowry doesn't need the ball in his hands to play well.

    An ability that works perfectly alongside the likes of LeBron James.

    Should the Lakers fail to sign James, Lowry remains a viable option. He can shoot, drive and facilitate, which makes him a perfect fit for the Lakers' Princeton offense.

    It also makes him a perfect fit with Dwight Howard, who would certainly benefit from such a versatile player on both ends of the floor.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    18.89 PER, 14.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG

7. Derrick Favors, RFA

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 23

    Experience: 4 Seasons


    With the hype surrounding Kobe Bryant becoming a free agent in 2014, we seem to forget about one other player that will be departing: power forward Pau Gasol.

    Should Gasol and the Lakers part ways, the team will need to fill his void. They will need to find a big man that is capable of stepping in and playing power forward for the team for the better part of the next decade.

    With Favors turning 23 before the 2014 offseason, he could be the player who fills that role. If the Utah Jazz were to actually let him walk, that is exactly why the Lakers must take advantage of his availability.

    Favors has already established himself as one of the better defensive bigs in the NBA. When faced with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, Favors put up postseason averages of 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

    This came roughly a week after Favors took over the Utah Jazz's game against the Phoenix Suns. The game was of extreme importance due to the fact that it clinched the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

    As for how dominant Favors was, try 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. He was also directly responsible for Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris combining for 4-of-16 shooting.

    If that won't help a team that already has Dwight Howard, what would?


    2011-12 Season Averages

    17.05 PER, 21.3 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG

6. Paul George, RFA

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 24

    Experience: 4 Seasons


    If the Los Angeles Lakers were to replace Kobe Bryant with LeBron James, it would be incomprehensible how legendary a move that would be. With that being noted, the Lakers would still need a shooting guard.

    Enter restricted free agent and 6'10" sharpshooter Paul George.

    Let's be honest about things. The Indiana Pacers are very unlikely to be outbid when it comes to their future star. The unlikely is not impossible, however, and that is why the Lakers must entertain the idea of pursuing George.

    The Lakers would certainly benefit from having size and defensive upside on the perimeter. They'd also have a player who is lethal from beyond the arc, as well as a scorer that can slash and finish around the basket.

    With Dwight Howard in the paint and Steve Nash running the point for one more season, consider the California native to be the perfect fit. The fact that he has two years of postseason experience at the age of 22 certainly doesn't hurt, either.

    Consider George to be the perfect candidate to fill Kobe Bryant's shoes for the long haul.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    16.55 PER, 12.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.6 SPG

5. Andre Iguodala, UFA

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    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 30

    Experience: 10 Seasons


    If the Los Angeles Lakers fail to sign LeBron James, they will need to address yet another departure via free agency. That, of course, comes with Metta World Peace no longer under contract and a viable replacement at small forward not on the roster.

    Who better to fill the defensive void than Andre Iguodala?

    Iguodala spent the Summer of 2012 with Kobe Bryant and Team USA. He also has the same agent as Bryant in Rob Pelinka. With Bryant having the organization's best interest in mind, he may be able to sway Iggy into signing out West even if he doesn't return to play.

    Aside from that fact, let's not forget that Iguodala will be an unrestricted free agent. With no ties to the Nuggets, don't be shocked to see Iggy sign on for a chance to win a title.

    With Iguodala on the perimeter and Dwight Howard in the paint, the Lakers would have one of the best high-low defensive tandems in the game. With this infusion of athleticism and defensive prowess, the Lakers would be able to compete with any elite team in the West.

    Although it would leave a vacancy for a star scorer on the perimeter, the move would maintain their championship contention. With the addition of that reliable scorer, the Lakers would return to being the favorites out West.

    Consider this a stepping stone signing.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    17.59 PER, 12.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.7 SPG

4. O.J. Mayo, UFA

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 26

    Experience: 6 Seasons


    As previously alluded to in the Andre Iguodala slide, the Los Angeles Lakers will be in desperate need of a perimeter scorer to replace Kobe Bryant. As they search for said player, the organization should look no further than O.J. Mayo.

    Fortunately for the Lakers, Mayo is familiar to the California area as a former USC Trojan.

    Although Mayo has underwhelmed in his past two seasons, he averaged 18.5 and 17.5 points per game in 2009 and 2010 respectively. With a defined role as the shooting guard and Steve Nash by his side during year one, Mayo could return to and even up those numbers.

    With two years under Rick Carlisle in Dallas, that return to borderline elite form may come sooner rather than later.

    Mayo can attack off of the dribble, spot-up and shoot from the perimeter and utilize screens to create open shots for himself. He's also a sound ball handler and a capable facilitator, although the Grizzlies learned that he is not always comfortable in said role.

    Where he is comfortable, however, is as a scorer. That is exactly what the Lakers need him to be, thus making this pairing one of ideal proportions.

    As defenses close out on Dwight Howard in the paint, don't be shocked to see Mayo light it up from the perimeter.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    14.76 PER, 12.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG

3. Greg Monroe, RFA

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 24

    Experience: 4 Seasons


    As previously alluded to, the Los Angeles Lakers are set to lose Pau Gasol to free agency. As a result, the team will be in need of a replacement.

    With Dwight Howard having established himself as the most dominant defensive force in the game, it would behoove the Lakers to find a scorer at the four.

    That is exactly what the Lakers would have if they managed to sign Greg Monroe. Although the Pistons are a virtual lock to match all offers for their star big man, the Lakers must pursue him to display a continued desire for excellence.

    Monroe would work perfectly alongside Howard. He has a great nose for the ball as a rebounder and excels at finishing around the basket. Although he could improve in his fundamentals as a scorer, he seems to strengthen with every game.

    After two more years, Monroe will be an All-Star. He will continue to score at a high rate, develop his mid-range game and even become a more consistent defender.

    With Dwight Howard beside him, Monroe will be able to develop into the player that the Lakers will need to replace Pau Gasol. Monroe can pass out of the post, thrives in the pick-and-roll and will eventually dominate without the ball in his hands.

    If the Lakers could pry him away from the Pistons, they would take a significant step towards bringing in yet another decade of dominance.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    22.09 PER, 15.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG

2. John Wall, RFA

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 24

    Experience: 4 Seasons


    The legion of John Wall detractors will claim that he is not a legitimate star in the making. Instead, he's just a freak athlete that has benefited from an extraordinary amount of hype via his days as a Kentucky Wildcat.

    Without bias, however, we acknowledge what is true. John Wall is flirting with becoming a superstar.

    During the 2011-12 NBA regular season, Wall was one of three players to average at least 16.0 points and 8.0 assists per game. The other two players to achieve the feat were Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets.

    He was the only player in the league to average at least 16.0 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest.

    With this being known, it is only fair to marvel at said achievements. Wall is only 22 years old and is coming off of just his second year in the league. By the time he becomes a free agent in 2014, one can only imagine that he'll have established himself as the next great point guard in the NBA.

    Although the Wizards are almost certain to match any contract offer sent his way, the Lakers would be foolish to let Wall go without at least pursuing his services.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    17.77 PER, 16.3 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG

1. Carmelo Anthony, ETO

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    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 30

    Experience: 11 Seasons


    If we're playing the game of "unlikely but possible" with LeBron James, we should play it with another superstar small forward: Carmelo Anthony.

    Truth be told, Anthony is arguably the most similar player in the NBA to Kobe Bryant. That is, if you strip away the accolades and NBA titles.

    Both Kobe and 'Melo play similar styles of offense in the sense that they thrive in isolation sets and can shoot the lights out from the perimeter. Although they play separate positions, present significant differences on defense and have different body types, both would serve the same function in a Princeton offense.

    That is, if Carmelo Anthony is willing to learn a designed motion offense.

    If he is, the former Syracuse star would be the perfect player for the Lakers to sign if the pursuit of LeBron is to fail. Even if he did default to his isolation tendencies, having a player like Dwight Howard in the paint would work much better than the one-way abilities of Tyson Chandler.

    Considering the Knicks won 18 of their final 24 games with 'Melo and Chandler firing on all cylinders, just imagine how dominant Anthony and Howard could be.

    What truly makes this deal so promising is the fact that 'Melo has the star power necessary to fit the Lakers' organization. Although he may not be a fan's top choice, Anthony is the most talented individual scorer aside from James that could become a free agent.

    That is, unless you want to reach a new extreme and see the Lakers go after Dwyane Wade.


    2011-12 Season Averages

    21.15 PER, 22.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 SPG