The Purple and Gold have nearly cleared their books for the 2014 summer and should have roughly $50 million in cap room available to spend. Granted, the Lakers will more than likely re-sign Bryant in the same offseason, which will eat into that figure.
If the Lakers can negotiate a deal with the superstar within range of about $15 million per season, the Lakers will have something resembling roughly $35 million in cap space to spend on the open market.
The Lakers will have to prioritize and go after players who not only can play alongside Bryant, but can also carry the team once the five-time world champion retires.
Consequently, the franchise must set its sights on 30-year-olds or younger. This disqualifies players such as Zach Randolph, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Furthermore, the Lakers cannot hitch their wagon to guys with potential when chasing free agents.
The league’s most glamorous franchise needs players with credentials as professionals. They must put the team in championship contention when playing with Bryant, and history tells us that title teams have numerous great players.
This eliminates Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe from the discussion.
The last criterion is durability. The Lakers went through a train wreck of a season in 2012-13 because of the numerous injuries the team faced. Some of that can be attributed to bad luck, but the franchise must ensure its best players can participate in at least 80 percent of its contests.
Thus, when discussing free agents, we will look at participation rate in their three most recent seasons and use it to project their future availability.