Few teams have had a more disappointing season than the Los Angeles Lakers, but between the NBA draft this year and the 2015 free-agency period, fans of the team have managed to find something to look forward to.
Luckily for those fans, this batch of rumors deals directly with the team's future, from those players likely to be back this season to those that the team will make a push to add. Let's break down the buzz.
Steve Nash is 40 years old and has appeared in just 12 games this season. He's also due to make a healthy chunk of change next season. For those reasons, the Lakers plan on keeping him next year.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times explains:
For financial reasons, the Lakers currently plan to keep him next season, The Times has learned, eating the remainder of his contract ($9.7 million) in one swoop instead of waiving him and spreading the money out over three years.
It would give them more money to spend in the summers of 2015 and 2016, when they figure to be active players in the free-agent market amid such possible names as Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
So the Lakers will take the 40-year-old Nash into next season and hope he can play more than a handful of games.
So, the Lakers are going to have to absorb that contract hit one way or another. Might as well do it all in one chunk next year and hope Nash can stay healthy and produce somewhat in 2014-15.
According to that report, the Lakers also intend on keeping point guard Kendall Marshall, currently averaging 8.1 points and 8.9 assists per game with the team. Marshall's jumper and defense leave a lot to be desired, but he certainly keeps his teammates involved in the offense.
So for at least next season, the Lakers have cover at the point guard position. They'll need an upgrade soon enough, however.
Speaking of guard play, the Lakers are going to have a pick fairly high up in the lottery at this year's NBA draft, and it looks as though one prospect in particular is interested in joining the team.
Exum has been working out in Los Angeles in preparation for the draft. There have been reports that Exum, who is represented by Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, may be angling for the Lakers to draft him. But two executives from lottery teams said that wouldn't stop them from drafting Exum if he's available. Scouts rave about the Australian's natural talent. Exum can play both guard spots, but his long-term future is likely at shooting guard.
With Kobe Bryant manning the 2 and both Nash and Marshall likely returning next year, it remains to be seen exactly what Exum's role would be on the Lakers. Perhaps he would bump Marshall for playing time at point guard? Perhaps he would be Bryant's backup? Perhaps simply the team's sixth man?
Of course, there is no guarantee that Exum will even be available to the Lakers, as he seems destined to be a top-five pick. So all of his agent's angling may be for naught. Still, if he's available to the Lakers when they select, the Australian could be headed to Los Angeles.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Friday the Lakers would be willing to trade their upcoming pick in the heralded NBA draft—likely to be in the top half of the lottery—to land Love.
While Minnesota could certainly decide to go that route and hit the restart button, there is no assurance that the Lakers are truly Love’s most desired destination.
A source familiar with Love’s thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it’s not just L.A. that is appealing to Love; he’s enamored with the idea of being “big time in a big city,” and that list of potential places he’d seek includes New York and Chicago, as well.
And hey, the Lakers would love to have him. Of course, according to Mike D'Antoni, that puts them in the same boat as every other NBA team, as he told Bresnahan:
"He's got a great outlet pass, he rebounds the ball, knows great position," D'Antoni said. "He's relentless on the boards, he's relentless in attacking you. There's just a number of things that makes him great."
He's the type of stretch power forward that would go well in D'Antoni's system, no?
"I would rephrase that and say everybody wants something like that," D'Antoni said. "When you're talking about one of the best players in the league, yeah it makes sense."
It's so true. Love is averaging 26 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, and few big man pass the rock better than he does. His skill set is truly unique, and he would be a great fit in Los Angeles.
Of course, giving up a trade package for him now might not be appealing to the Lakers, especially if they feel they could keep the pick and simply sign Love in 2015. The 'Wolves will likely trade Love if he makes it clear he won't re-sign, however, so LA might not have the luxury of playing the waiting game.
And truly, the Lakers would be nuts to not trade for Love if the opportunity presents itself. He's just 25 years old, he continues to improve and his game should age fairly well.
The 'Wolves have seemingly made it clear that they aren't interested in trading Love at any point, however, according to Zach Lowe of Grantland. And you have to think that Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks will make a major push to bring aboard the talented power forward, among several other organizations.
It's all up in the air, in other words. The Lakers will likely go all out for Love. Whether the interest is mutual, however, remains to be seen.